Photography and Anthropology in the Yucatan: divergent routes in portraying Mayan people?
(Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan)
Paper short abstract:
In this paper I explore the continuities and discontinuities of the approaches taken by professional Photographers and Anthropologists --or professional Photographers working for Anthropologists-- when photographing and portraying Mayan population.
Paper long abstract:
Around the last quarter of the 19th century, photography in Yucatan played an important role when recording the political, economic, and socio-cultural environment of the state, mainly that of the capital city of Merida and its vicinity. Images included, buildings, political gatherings, industrial processes, fashion, as well as other social and cultural events. People were part of the photographic settings, thus studios became increasingly important. This was the case with the upper classes, but quickly started to include other social classes, the Mayans and foreign workers who arrived to work in the henequen plantations. This phenomenon grew in the first decade of the 20th century; coincidentally this was the time in which professional Anthropology started its development in the Yucatan with the seminal Robert Redfield's research. Due to the interest of anthropological research in the Yucatan focusing on the Mayan population, most of the photographs taken by Anthropologists, local and foreign, were devoted to represent Mayan people in their socio-cultural environment, whether performing some activities typically associated as "Maya" or simply posing for the Anthropologist. Here I would like to explore the continuities and discontinuities of the approaches taken by professional Photographers and Anthropologists --or professional Photographers working for Anthropologists-- when photographing and portraying Mayan population.
Constructing and Contesting Imaginaries: Anthropology, Photography, and the Histories of Durable Visual Tropes