Eye Contact: Photographing Indigenous Australians

By Beckett, Jeremy | Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, March 2007 | Go to article overview

Eye Contact: Photographing Indigenous Australians


Beckett, Jeremy, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute


LYDON, JANE. Eye contact: photographing indigenous Australians. xxvi, 303 pp., map, illus., bibliogr. London, Durham, N.C.: Duke Univ. Press, 2005. [pounds sterling]15.95 (paper)

Australian Aborigines complain that they are the most studied people on earth. They may also be the most photographed. Artists had depicted them from the first years of settlement, but when photography was introduced, its potential for reproduction enabled the ordinary settler as well as people back in Europe to consume their likenesses.

In Eye contact, Jane Lydon takes the case of Coranderrk, a small Aboriginal reserve which, unlike most such institutions, was situated within easy reach of Melbourne, and frequently visited by dignitaries and the general public during the second half of the nineteenth century. Also visiting were photographers, commissioned to record the life of the inmates for policy-makers, for the public, and for the various great exhibitions held in Europe and the colonies in the second half of the nineteenth century.

The Aboriginal inhabitants of southeastern Australia had borne the brunt of the pastoral settlement which characterized the colonization of Australia in the nineteenth century. A combination of forces had by mid-century reduced the indigenous population, to the point where it had become what was called a 'remnant'. They could no longer live independently, but had to find a niche in the settler economy. Such was the situation at Coranderrk, a community remarkable both for its adoption of mission Christianity, and for its readiness to become self-supporting on the small area of land which the government had made available. Having met the requirements of the colonists, however, they believed they had rights, in particular to the land they occupied, and they mounted a spirited resistance, using the literacy they had acquired, when the authorities threatened their tenure.

This story has already been told by anthropologist Diane Barwick and historian Bain Attwood, leaving Lydon free to draw on it as she interrogates the photographs. Of these there is an abundance--Coranderrk having been from the 1860s through the 1880s 'a site of prolific visual production'--in albums and collections, sometimes replicated as engravings in books and newspapers. Lydon sometimes compares the original plates with prints which have been retouched, providing clues to the intentions of photographer or patron.

Lydon analyses what the photographs meant or were intended to mean to the settlers, or their kinfolk back in Europe, in the light of contemporary documentation, but she avoids the easy stereotypes, remaining sensitive to the contradictory currents and ambivalences in settlers' consciousness. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Eye Contact: Photographing Indigenous Australians
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.