ANTHROPOLOGICAL PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE ANDES AS KNOWLEDGE PRODUCTION: DISPLACEMENT AND EMPLACEMENT
LA FOTOGRAFÍA ANTROPOLÓGICA EN LOS ANDES COMO TECNOLOGÍA DEL CONOCER: DESPLAZAMIENTOS Y EMPLAZAMIENTOS
This article explores the beginnings of Visual Anthropology and its links to the Andean region. Additionally, it highlights the reproducibility of photography, a feature that allows for changes of location of past shoots in what I call mobile communal albums. The history of Visual Anthropology considers John Collier Jr. to be one of its founders. His contribution to this field is based on visual works carried out in several locations in the Americas and Europe and on collaborative works with local anthropologists and photographers. Through published sources, this article documents Collier’s experience in the Andes, and suggests that this novel visual field was established in the context of disputes about modernity during the mid-twentieth century. This scenario included the geographical and thematic expansion of North American Anthropology, as well as the requirements of a new imperial order that demanded knowledge, registration, and interpretation of change among a diversity of human groups, particularly workers and native peoples. Collier Jr’s work in the Andes contributed to the formulation of concepts associated with visuality, including photographic narrative, cultural energy, and photographic interview, all of which were used to understand social change in intercultural settings with a predominant indigenous population. Although towards the 1940s anthropological photography remained a technology to access indigenous worlds, rather than looking for eugenic and racial categorizations or for exoticization, it became a resource to understand the dynamism of indigeneity. This dynamism acquires a new layer when, through field observations and interviews, it can be noted that author photographs of the 1940s have been appropriated by residents of Otavalo (Ecuador) to compile a mobile communal album that assigns new meanings to old images. The materiality and affective appeal of photography allows such displacements to connect a contemporary public to Otavalo ancestry.
Tags: Andes, Visual anthropology history, photography, visual categories, placing, affects, mobile communal album