Photography′s Other Histories

Photography′s Other Histories


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Book Pages: 296 Illustrations: 128 halftones, 1 table Published: April 2003

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Art and Visual Culture > Art History, Photography

Moving the critical debate about photography away from its current Euro-American center of gravity, Photography’s Other Histories breaks with the notion that photographic history is best seen as the explosion of a Western technology advanced by the work of singular individuals. This collection presents a radically different account, describing photography as a globally disseminated and locally appropriated medium. Essays firmly grounded in photographic practice—in the actual making of pictures—suggest the extraordinary diversity of nonwestern photography.

Richly illustrated with over 100 images, Photography’s Other Histories explores from a variety of regional, cultural, and historical perspectives the role of photography in raising historical consciousness. It includes two first-person pieces by indigenous Australians and one by a Seminole/Muskogee/Dine' artist. Some of the essays analyze representations of colonial subjects—from the limited ways Westerners have depicted Navajos to Japanese photos recording the occupation of Manchuria to the changing "contract" between Aboriginal subjects and photographers. Other essays highlight the visionary quality of much popular photography. Case studies centered in early-twentieth-century Peru and contemporary India, Kenya, and Nigeria chronicle the diverse practices that have flourished in postcolonial societies. Photography’s Other Histories recasts popular photography around the world, as not simply reproducing culture but creating it.

Michael Aird, Heike Behrend, Jo-Anne Driessens, James Faris, Morris Low, Nicolas Peterson, Christopher Pinney, Roslyn Poignant, Deborah Poole, Stephen Sprague, Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie, Christopher Wright


“[A]n instructive contribution to [the] continuing effort to revise our understanding of photography. . . . [A] timely reminder that there is a need for many histories of photography, just as there are still many photographies for which histories have yet to be written.” — Geoffrey Batchen, New York Times

“[F]ar-reaching and ambitious. . . . [A]n excellent reminder of how much all cultures have to learn about others. . . . Photography's Other Histories would be a good choice for a textbook. General readers will also find the book appealing.  Well-researched, these essays concisely bring to mind the reality of the photographic experience.” — Amy Ione , Leonardo Reviews

"Photography's Other Histories makes an important contribution to the study of photography, colonialism and postcolonialism with its decentering of received notions of the history of photography. The essays demonstrate how photography can be used to understand post/colonial systems and tell us that much remains to be learned about the diversity of photographic practice around the world." — David Odo , Journal of Colonialism & Colonial History

"[A]n important contribution to the anthropological literature. . . . The cultural and social issues addressed within these pages, and the photographs themselves, provide a fascinating, yet often troubling, perspective. . . . [T]he authors have made an important theoretical contribution toward understanding how a global technology has been adapted to the production of locally varying cultural manifestations." — Patricia K. Anderson, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"[F]ascinating and innovative. . . . Photography's Other Histories is an important contribution to the study of photography. Its critical rereadings of the stereotypical post-colonial interpretation of Western photography is refreshing." — Jan Baetens, Image and Narrative

"Implicitly and tantalizingly, in different ways the essays engage with the question posed by Pinney's introductory observation." — Liz Reed , Oceania

"In providing a range of sophisticated analyses grounded in extensive research, this is a very useful reference for scholars interested in visual analysis and historical anthropology. In some ways the collection's diversity is its strength, demonstrating the multifarious meanings and reaches of the medium. . . . [T]he collection travels a long way from the determinist approach which has dominated studies of colonial photography in the past, toward recuperation and renewal-a welcome and important exploration." — Jane Lydon, The Australian Journal of Anthropology

"Pinney covers and articulates clearly some complex issues relating visuality and representation and puts forward a well conceived argument on the significance of the material surface of the image in visual decolonization. . . . [A] significant piece of scholarship." — Justin Carville , Source

"Solid, theoretically informed case studies cover a wide geographic and historical range and do not shy away from the detail needed to explore specific, sometimes intricate, examples of photographic reinterpretation. . . . Photography's Other Histories is chock-full of complex, interesting, and thoughtful scholarship. . . . [T]his is a marvelous book and the breadth of historical and geographical range it does cover helps to make its compelling case. Above al it is the way these essays work together and the conversations and counterpoints that arise among the papers and well-organized sections that make it so important. Indeed, the overall volume succeeds in making it very hard to think of photography only in terms of European and American settings, conventions, and histories. This is a major achievement." — Corinne A. Kratz , International Journal of African Historical Studies

"Photography's Other Histories is an extremely interesting and important volume. It challenges both the canonical view of photographic value and importance and, in its cross-cultural concerns, the centrality of Euro-American theoretical constructs of photography. Throughout, the collection successfully argues for a reorientation in the critical debate." — Elizabeth Edwards, Curator of Photographs and Lecturer in Visual Anthropology, Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford

“Photography's Other Histories is a quite remarkable collection of essays on widely ranging photographic practices around the world. In its attention to local cultural inflections to a global technology, to the recuperation of colonial images by their latterday Fourth World subjects, and to the provocative antirealist aesthetics characterizing much postcolonial photography, this volume marks a watershed in both art history, anthropology, and cultural studies.“ — Lucien Taylor, The Film Study Center, Harvard University


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Christopher Pinney is Reader in Anthropology and Visual Culture at University College London. He is author of Camera Indica: The Social Life of Indian Photographs and coeditor of Pleasure and the Nation and Beyond Aesthetics.

Nicolas Peterson is Reader in Anthropology at the Australian National University. He is coeditor of Citizenship and Indigenous Australians: Changing Conceptions and Possibilities.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: “How the Other Half . . .” / Christopher Pinney 1

1. Personal Archives

Relating to Photographs / Jo-Anne Driessens 17

Growing Up with Aborigines / Michael Aird 23

When Is a Photograph Worth a Thousand Words? / Hulleah J. Tsinhnahjinnie 40

2. Visual Economies

The Making of Professional “Savages”: From P.T. Barnam (1883) to the Sunday Times (1998) / Roslyn Poignant 55

Navajo and Photography / James Faris 85

The Japanese Colonial Eye: Science, Exploration, and Empire / Morris Law 100

The Changing Photographic Contract: Aborigines and Image Ethics / Nicolas Peterson 119

Supple Bodies: The Papua New Guinea Photographs of Captain Francis R. Barton, 1899–1907 / Christopher Wright 146

3. Self-Fashioning and Vernacular Modernism

Figueroa Anznar and the Cusco Indigenistas: Photography and Modernism in Early-Twentieth Century Peru / Deborah Poole 173

Notes from the Surface of the Image: Photography, Postcolonialism, and Vernacular Modernism / Christopher Pinney 202

Imagined Journeys: The Likoni Ferry Photographers of Mombasa, Kenya / Heike Behrend 221

Yoruba Photography: How the Yoruba See Themselves / Stephen Sprague 240

Works Cited 261

Contributors 277

Index 279
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3113-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3126-1
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