Accepted Paper:

Charlotte Hoskins (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

I examine fourteen photographs, taken by reverend. James Williams and held by the Pitt Rivers Museum, of Makushi and Patamona girls who attended the mission's school. The images also show material objects, the landscape, and a chief -- John Bull, and escape easy description.

Paper long abstract:

I carry these photographs with me to Surama, a Makushi village in the same region as Eupukari, where I hope they'll find their way eventually to Yupukari. I look too at a text, Makushi Grammar written by the same reverend, and read aloud one letter he pens and translates from a Makushi chief.

I take note of the responses these images prompt when I take them there, by the family I stay with, and listen to how they make them remember things. (Like, about how their mother had gone there -- to learn to sign their name and read the bible, and then gone home again.) The reverend James William's correspondence with the Royal Anthropological Society are held within their archives, and point to the process of his becoming a published specialized author on these otherwise obscure languages.

I have reformed the colonial missionary photographs into a film, that reveal how I look at the photographs with others. This is a work in process I hope to expand by looking more closely at some of the oral histories I collected during my last trip to the field and that direct me to a wider interest in British colonial missionary archives.

This work scrutinizes archives as a means of interrogating colonial histories, and I will show a short selected sequence (from the archives I have discussed above). This sequence will attempt to trace connections between mission photographs, oral histories, letters, and their circulations.

Panel P27a
Colonial Film Archives: Interrogations and Interventions
  Session 1