Photography, geography and Empire, 1840-1914.
This thesis considers the relationships between photography and geography in the
wider context of British imperialism, c. 1840-1914. It distisses reproductions of sixty
photographs. Chapter one situates this research within current theoretical debates
concerning the histories of photography, geography and British imperialism. It also
discusses the sources used, and provides a detailed outline of the thesis. Chapter two
considers the photographic representation of landscape on geographical expeditions,
particularly scientific expeditions in central Africa and the travels of commercial
photographers in northern India. Chapter three focuses on the role of photography
within military campaigns. A detailed discussion of the Abyssinian campaign (1867-8)
reveals how photography and geography were associated in imperial campaigning.
Chapter four traces the language and imagery of 'photographic-hunting'. A discussion
of practices of hunting, exploration and conservation, particularly in Africa, shows how
photography was a means of representing the imperial domination of the natural world.
Chapter five explores the photographic survey and classification of 'racial types'. It
situates the associated uses of photography in anthropology and geography within the
context of Victorian scientific ideas on race, both within the empire and in Britain
itself. Chapter six discusses the relationship between the representation of racial 'types'
abroad and the social 'others' of Victorian London. It presents a case study of the work
of the professional photographer John Thomson, placing his work in China and London
in the context of his ethnological and geographical interests. Chapter seven explores
Halford Mackinder's work with the Colonial Office Visual Instruction Committee,
1902-1911. It shows how photography was used to promote an imperial vision of
geography, but raises also questions as to its ultimate impact. Chapter eight provides a
conclusion which argues that photography was central to the construction of
imaginative geographies of empire in the period 1840-1914 and suggests that, through
photography, such geographies continue to be reproduced today