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Title: Seeing through landscape : French photographic archives of China (1840s-1930s)
Author: Cabos, Marine
ISNI:       0000 0004 6500 5558
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis addresses the development of the genre of landscape photography in China between the 1840s and the 1930s. Largely unstudied, this genre significantly impacted on a larger socio-cultural context. Due to the current fragmented and disorderly state of photographic archives, I have adopted an object oriented-approach by bringing together hitherto isolated bodies of material held in different institutions across several countries. The connection between this widely dispersed material is related to what I have framed as a French awareness in photographic activity in China. In other words, it concerns not only the production of French operators themselves but also any type of Chinese landscape photographs disseminated in France. The threefold thesis structure unfolds chronologically and through a selection of case studies regarded as pivotal landmarks that marked the first century of photography in China. Enquiries into how shifting ways of seeing and methods for constructing archives were shaped through the materiality of the photographs are threads that run throughout the sections. In Section I, I retrace the early production and consumption of Chinese landscape photography during the second half of the nineteenth century both in France and China. Section II concerns the ways in which photographic records created during campaigns of exploration represented new technological and expressive options for depicting Chinese landscape. Finally, Section III suggests that during the early part of the twentieth century both indigenous and international operators became increasingly inclined to represent landscape according to pre-established local conceptions. The aim of this study is to assess the role of photography in transmitting and transforming perceptions of Chinese landscapes, and the extent to which they relate to changes in sociocultural, economical and political life during the transition from the mid-nineteenth century to early twentieth centuries.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral