Ethnographic/Exploration Photography

Write 300 words minimum post that respond to the below prompt, and include your opinion. At the end of your post, put down the number of words you have written.

For this discussion, read and watch the below materials on National Geographic’s acknowledgment of their racist’s past and the controversy/responses by Native American artists around Edward Curtis’ photographs and think about the quote by British anthropologist and colonial administrator Everard im Thurn “primitive phases of life are fast fading from the world in this age of restless travel and exploration, and it should be recognized as almost the duty of educated travelers in the less known parts of the world to put on permanent record before it is too late, such of these phases as they may observe


  • The debate surrounding the documentation of indigenous life: the importance of recording and/or how may National Geographic or ethnographers perpetuate visual tropes of “savage” or “uncivilized” indigenous communities. (Note: It is okay not to take ‘sides’ in the debate, and instead speak about the complexity to the discussion.


  • How did Native American Photographers attempt to reframe these visual tropes with their own photographs (you can reference the ones below or others you can find)


Lecture Notes

National Geographic’s acknowledgement of their Racist Past

VOX’s interview with John Edwin Mason, Historian of Photography and Africa National Geographic’s November cover falls back on a racist cliché

Edward Curtis’ Epic Project to Photograph Native Americans on Smithsonianmag (Watch the Video too)

Read about the Portland Art Museums’ show on Native American Photographer’s respond to Edward Curtis’ images 100 years later.

Watch Interviews with Native American Artists

Wendy Red Star

Will Wilson

Zig Jackson

and the shows’ curators

Additional Materials

View more information on Edward Curtis’s work

Wiki Page on Edward Curtis

A Critical Understanding of Edward Curtis’s Photos of Native American Culture Hyperallergic

Watch Wendy Red Star, 1880 Crow Peace Delegation

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