Week Seven

This week our readings were on the advances towards modernity, immediately I expected to read 30 pages on economic growth, but I was wrong. There was most definitely quite a bit of information regarding economic growth, as it is a very strong factor in the comings of modernity. To my surprise, a significant amount was on culture and social features, there was quite a bit on photographs, which I found very interesting. In this chapter there are 5 pages that have pictures that represent significant views of history.

I would like to further focus on Figure 4.1 portrayal of two young indigenous boys, the are shown as poor and seem to be agricultural labourers. In the beginning of the 1860’s there would still be very much racism prominent in Latin America, generalizing the boys as labourers shows this. This photograph could be interpreted in many different ways, this is the beauty of a photograph, although we are at the hands of the photographer. This makes me wonder about what is the intentions of this photographer, or what is happening on the outsides of the corners of the photograph?

Another photo that intrigued me was figure 4.3, a photo of a peruvian man and his wife. This photo and its description below are very vague, which makes it more interesting to interpret. The couple’s body language seems to be nearly distrustful of the photograph, as their backs are hunched and they are merely looking into the photograph almost as if they were interpreting it as well. The fact that the man is wearing his uniform is important as well, perhaps he wanted to be photographed in it because he is proud of his contribution or maybe he was forced to wear it as a symbol to the military. This also made me connect to the traditional american “we want you” posters for the army, maybe at this time that this photograph was their version of the american poster.

Photographs are a huge part of history, it is a very special opportunity that we have today that we can interpret photographs from hundreds of years ago. Sometimes, a photograph can say much more than words can, this is why I choose to write this weeks blog on the photographs. It is one thing to read pages of statistics, historical facts and documents but the interpretation of a photograph from a different perspective than the photographer and the photographed can explain more than what is being said. Obviously, just as anything else there are flaws in this argument, such as it is a small frame and we cannot see beyond it.

See you all tomorrow!


1 thought on “Week Seven

  1. adan barclay

    I chose to write a little on the use of photographs in Latin America as well. I find it interesting, yet true, that photographs have the ability to sometimes say much more than words can. I read in the text that photographs were also used to show documented progress, something that Latin America “needed” before developing into a democracy that could flourish.
    Nice job and see you tomorrow!


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