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Title: Chiapas through the lens : photography and indigenous identities in southern Mexico
Author: Earnshaw, Kathryn Louise
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2010
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Despite the resurgent interest in the region in the wake of the 1994 Zapatista uprising, Chiapas’ visual history has received little sustained critical attention. This thesis explores the diverse insights that can be gleaned from the region’s photographic heritage, drawing upon material dating from the mid-nineteenth century until the present day. The study looks primarily at quotidian and unheralded images of indigenous communities. The first chapter sets the thesis in context by analysing the historical reliance on the image of el indio in discourses of nation-building in Mexico. The second and third chapters consider the varied ways non-indigenous image-makers negotiate the relationship with their indigenous photographic subjects. Focusing primarily on the photographic output of anthropologists working for the Instituto Nacional Indigenista (INI) in Chiapas and on the prolific photographic corpus of Swiss photographer Gertrude Duby Blom, the thesis analyses the interface between developments in official indigenista thought and the photographic framing of indigenous communities during the second half of the twentieth century. The final chapter moves on to explore the diverse uses of photography by indigenous peoples themselves, engaging closely with the work of the indigenous photographers of the Chiapas Photography Project. By situating close photographic analyses within the broader panorama of politico-cultural history, the study offers new insights into the multilayered significance of photography within the complex network of inter-ethnic relations in Chiapas. Far from the camera being a neutral documentary tool, the space between photographer and photographic subject is revealed as deeply invested and politicised, signalling the nuanced role of photography in constructing and disseminating concepts of indigenous alterity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available