Colonial photography and exhibitions : representations of the 'native' and the making of European identities

Anne Maxwell

An investigation of the historical practice of producing stereotyped spectacles of representations of colonized peoples at the great exhibitions and in colonial photography, relating it to the shaping of European and settler identities. In doing so, it singles out the homogenous aspects of colonialism's culture as well as distinguishing its discontinuities. By comparing the images produced in Britain and France with those produced in North America, Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific, China and Japan, it proposes that differences in representations of colonized peoples between the imperial centres and the colonies were the result of different social and political agendas. By focusing on images connected to anthropology, dying race theory, travel, tourism and portraiture, Anne Maxwell argues that while some photographs were directed at naturalizing the precept of colonialism, others were used to criticise it and to empower indigenous subjects. The book is written from a postcolonial perspective and pursues an interdisciplinary approach.

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