Organized Panel Session
This panel explores the transnational production, circulation, and consumption of photographic images in the globalized context of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which saw the intensification of colonial expansion and interregional contacts. By examining the flow of photographs in various media (e.g., photographic books, souvenir albums, stereographs, illustrated magazines and newspapers, postcards, etc.), we present an interdisciplinary conversation on 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 political, cultural, 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 epistemological paradigms impact global politics? Among the panelists, Roberta Wue analyzes the Scottish photographer John Thomson’s experiment with Chinese streetscapes, with emphasis on photographer-subject-spectator dynamics. By looking at photographic reproductions from two US world expositions, Jung Joon Lee asks what the exclusion from published books of Asian bodies, which were often presented in stereographs, tells us 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 the images of Shan aristocrats at the 1903 Delhi Durbar to conjure up the spectacle of imperial order and naturalize the idea of Burma as a multi-ethnic entity.