Early 20th century photography of Australian Aboriginal families: Illustration or evidence?

Nicolas Peterson*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    This article examines a set of postcard images relating to the Australian Aboriginal family circulating at the beginning of the 20th century, to ask whether the images were an illustration of Aboriginal social and economic circumstances or taken as evidence for it. It is argued that the imagery fits with two prevalent moral discourses of the period that helped explain Aboriginal people s impoverished circumstances, and provided evidence for the need for certain kinds of institutions and practices to redeem them. The analysis will suggest how these meanings were encoded in such a way that they were easily perceived by casual viewers.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)11-26
    Number of pages16
    JournalVisual Anthropology Review
    Volume21
    Issue number1-2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2005

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