Arts and Culture
The popular press played a significant role in public life and functioned as an instrument of modernity in 19th century Europe. This paper analyses visual reportage of the Southeast Asian region in illustrated periodicals between the 1840s and 1890s, focusing on two major periodicals of the time, The Illustrated London News and Le Monde illustré. Illustrated periodicals began to emerge and flourish from the 1840s onwards. The predominant mode of illustration was engravings, until the advancement of photomechanical processes in the 1890s. What were the events of significance reported in these periodicals? What were the sources of visual reportage of the Southeast Asian region? How did the advancement of photomechanical processes affect the reproduction and circulation of images of Southeast Asia? Through a close study of both the illustrations and their accompanying texts, this paper provides an overview of impressions of the region which were circulated to the general public, ranging from visual and material culture, social life, to politics. This analysis considers how Southeast Asian representation and local agency may be situated within the broader framework of European modernity.