Anthropology and Photography, 1860-1920
Elizabeth Edwards, Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland
Yale University Press, 1992 - 275
Since its beginnings, photography has been a valuable resource for anthropologists in the recording of ethnographic data. This book, published in conjunction with the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) London, looks at the significance and relevance of still photography in British anthropology from about 1860 until 1920. It examines how photography provides evidence of the past and how this evidence is used in conjunction with more traditional forms of anthropological information. And it considers the reflexive and critical nature of the photographic way of seeing within anthropology. The book opens with five substantial essays on the nature of photography, visual perception, theoretical and historical approaches to anthropological photography, and the photograph as a document. These are followed by twenty shorter essays by leading anthropologists and historians with special interest in visual representation. The essays examine the content and historical contexts of a range of 157 remarkable photographs, drawn mainly from RAI collections, many reproduced for the first time. The book as a whole establishes the intellectual and anthropological frameworks for the analysis of specific photographs and articulates a body of ideas about photography and the way in which it was perceived in anthropology. The volume encompasses many ways of thinking from the theoretical to the ethnographic and from the historical to the 'post-modern'. This pluralist approach stresses the complex nature of the photographic message and its interpretation within anthropology in a way that is as relevant to modern material as it is to the historical.