Accepted paper:

Picturing Iquitos: Circulating Images and Shifting Imaginaries

Authors:

Sydney Silverstein (Emory University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper examines the shifting manners in which the Amazonian city of Iquitos has been pictured—in archival and contemporary photographs, postcards, and travel accounts—as well as the changing political, economic, intellectual, and affective circumstances of those doing the picturing.

Paper long abstract:

Iquitos is the largest city in the world that cannot be reached by road. Sitting some 2000 miles up the Amazon River from the Atlantic Ocean, Iquitos is the capital of Peru's Amazonian department of Loreto, physically the largest but among the least-populated departments in the country. Despite its seemingly remote locale, Iquitos has been a global city formed out of transcontinental flows of people and resources since its inception as a steamship port linking Europe with the Amazon during the rubber boom of the late 19th century. When the global demand for Amazonian rubber subsided, however, Iquitos remained characterized by the comings and goings of people and goods from far-off places. What changed was who was coming, and why. The shifts in flows of goods, people, and capital also produced shifts in the representations of Iquitos in the form of images (touristic and artistic) and descriptive literature. Once a city hailed for the cosmopolitan nature of its inhabitants, European-style architecture, and its role as an urban oasis in the midst of the "green hell" of the Amazon jungle, today Iquitos is pictured in a dramatically different fashion. The paper examines the shifting manners in which the Amazonian city of Iquitos, its inhabitants, and the surrounding forest have been pictured—in archival and contemporary photographs, postcards, and travel accounts—as well as the changing political, economic, intellectual, and affective circumstances of those doing the picturing, with the intent of interrogating the desires and fantasies animating the constructions of place-based imaginaries.

panel P14
Constructing and Contesting Imaginaries: Anthropology, Photography, and the Histories of Durable Visual Tropes