The relationship between photographer and subject in nineteenth-century photographs of Afghanistan operates as a component of identity construction. To date, this interaction is theorized in terms of power between the photographer and the colonial apparatus and labels the image as orientalist, colonializing, and ethnographic. I propose an additional perspective that places consumer interests in costume at the forefront of image construction. While Western photographers have left us with a perception of nineteenth-century Afghanistan as an intersection between British occupied India and Russia, the social economic impetus of these images require further analysis. An examination of British cultural and photographic practices reveals the role clothes play in the creation of the ethnic ‘type.’ My research addresses these principal themes: the continuities between photographic and pre-photographic visualities; the relationship between European cultural attitudes, the creation of costume books, and reception of commercial photography; how visual information was repurposed and influenced the development of anthropology as a discipline. The importance of studying costume and costume books in the nineteenth century is instrumental to understanding Europe’s transition to a culture focused on classification and commodification. Costume books not only allowed for the creation of a consumable ‘type’ in photography, and permit us to examine the actual mechanics of commodification.
|Commitee:||Glebova, Aglaya, Wue, Roberta|
|School:||University of California, Irvine|
|Department:||Visual Studies - M.A.|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||MAI 57/01M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Afghanistan, Costume books, Nineteenth century, Photography|
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