Session Abstract: This panel explores the transnational production, circulation, and consumption of photographic images of Asian peoples and spaces in the globalized context of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which saw the intensification of colonial expansion and interracial and interethnic contacts. By examining the flow of photographs in various media (photographic books, souvenir albums,stereographs,illustrated magazines, postcards, etc.), our interdisciplinary conversation considers the following questions: How do these images, which often targeted viewers far beyond their geographical origins, capture Asian bodies and spaces? How were they transported across cultural, racial, ethnic, and rhetorical boundaries? How were they deployed into various semantic and epistemic schemes, and how did these mobilizations generate new knowledge and identities? How, in turn, did visually-fostered consciousness, identities, and epistemes impact global politics and cross-cultural and cross-racial interactions? Among the panelists, Roberta Wue analyzes the Scottish photographer John Thomson’s experiment with Chinese streetscapes and people, with emphasis on photographer-subject-spectator dynamics. By exploring photographic reproductions from US world expositions, Jung Joon Lee asks what the exclusion from published books of Asian bodies, which were often presented in stereographs, reveals about the racially charged politics of viewing. Christina Spiker’s examination of the transnational reproduction of early Ainu photographs sheds light on the impact of politically reinforced visual consistency on the making of the Ainu identity. Finally, Jie Guo studies how the British used images of the Shan at the 1903 Delhi Durbar to create the spectacle of imperial order and naturalize the idea of Burma as a multi-ethnic entity.
Paper Presenter: Roberta Wue – University of California, Irvine
Paper Presenter: Jung Joon Lee – Rhode Island School of Design
Paper Presenter: Christina M. Spiker – St. Olaf College
Paper Presenter: Jie Guo – University of South Carolina