"To see is to know?: The circulation of knowledge through photography in the Portuguese colonial context"
Patrícia Ferraz de Matos
(Universidade de Lisboa)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores the role played by photography as an item used for documenting anthropological works and as an ancillary tool in anthropological practices in the first half of the 20th century. It also analyses the way photography depicted individuals under Portuguese colonial administration.
Paper long abstract:
I will explore the role played by photography as an item used for documenting anthropological works and, sometimes, as an ancillary tool in anthropological practices during the first half of the 20th century. Based on the work by Mendes Correia, anthropologist and archaeologist, with a degree in Medicine, I will analyse the way photography was used in scientific papers on the empire and how they depicted some individuals under Portuguese colonial administration. I will demonstrate how photography was always requested within the scope of his research and its presence in the several working contexts he was involved in: in SPAE's (Portuguese Society of Anthropology and Ethnology) sessions; in the Anthropology practical courses at FCUP (Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto); in the context of criminal anthropology studies; at the CEEP (Centre for Peninsular Ethnology Studies); in anthropological missions and in two of his main works - Timor Português (1944) and Raças do Império (1943). As we will see, the photographs related to the work of Mendes Correia were assumed to be relevant from the start, since they would surely depict "reality", which was frequently considered to be disappearing. The photographs would capture "reality" and record it for future reference. This procedure, based on the principle that "to see is to know", will however expose the limitations of some anthropological practices and, on the other hand, uncover the imprecisions and difficulties that emerged in the context of the Portuguese colonialism.
Making knowledge mobile: knowledge production and transfer in/to/across/between anthropology's actors, locations, and performances