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Photographing Environment and Empire: A Methodological Roundtable of Case Studies

Thu, March 30, 1:30 to 3:00pm, The Drake Hotel, Georgian

Session Submission Type: Roundtable


Colonialism has had a profound and enduring impact on the ways in which the environment has been shaped and imagined. Photography played a central role in this process as a tool both in the perceived objective documentation and assessment of colonial holdings, and in its potential to circulate and preserve conceptions of nature, resource, and settlement. In the global context, the circulation of photographs across audiences colonized and colonizing alike, saw shifts in the readings and uses of photographs – an indication of the slippery connotative nature of the photograph and a challenge to any understanding of the photograph as inherently objective. This roundtable considers how photography has been deployed in the shaping of colonial understandings of the physical environment, the environmental imaginary, and in the forging of global perceptions of both people and resource under the colonial gaze. Using their specialized research as a case study, panelists will address the central question: “What does the study of photography reveal about colonialism, post-colonialism, and/or de-colonization of the environment?” Panelists will comment on the relationships between audiences and images, the circulation of images and their viewing-formats, and consider how multiple and variable publics have, since photography's inception, viewed environmental history.

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