Borneo through the lens : A.C. Haddon's photographic collections, Sarawak 1898-99
Title: Borneo through the lens : A.C. Haddon's photographic collections, Sarawak 1898-99
Citation: Sojourn: Journal of social issues in Southeast Asia, 2013, Vol. 28, No. 3, pp. 438-464
ISSN: 0217-9520; 1793-2858
Early photographic and anthropological processes produced specific forms of colonial knowledge. Images of Borneo captured during the colonial period thus offer a snapshot of the emerging field of anthropology. British explorer A.C. Haddon played a role in shaping early anthropological theory, from his 1898 expedition in Torres Straits and Sarawak to the subsequent analysis of his findings upon his return to Britain. During this time, the study of exotic people and places was the object of a new form of empiricism; the period also coincided with the circulation of a range of images of Asia. These images played a crucial part in constructing popular assumptions about colonized peoples and their social positions in the colonial hierarchy. Haddon's photographic collections were connected to a larger process of colonial knowledge production in which various images -- including other photographs, early film footage, paintings and etchings -- wrestled with competing representations of the region. His photographs of Sarawak convey the struggle in the emerging discipline of anthropology to distil objective 'truths' while competing with the subjective experiences afforded by social relations with local communities.
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