Haddon and the role of the original photograph in anthropological surveys
(University of Cambridge)
Paper short abstract:
Haddon’s engagement with modernity cultivated his use of photography as an anthropological survey tool. Yet his survey photographs of the Aran Islands were equally concerned with evidencing cultural identity before the perceived loss of the ‘Islander race’ and destruction of their way of life.
Paper long abstract:
In 1891 Alfred Haddon, concerned with how little attention had been given to the anthropological and sociological study of the Irish 'self', organised an Irish Ethnographic Survey. As part of this inaugural work in the Aran Islands, and modelling his practices on prior work by Francis Galton and John Beddoe, Haddon endorsed the worth of the photographic record for such surveys. Subsequently he did the same during his expedition to the Torres Strait in 1898-9. Haddon published his methodologies in the photographic sections of Notes and Queries, and as a result his concepts were adopted by other anthropologists, and a number of other photographic surveys ensued. Yet the complexity and ambiguity of these survey photographs is demonstrated by Haddon's statement that the promise of a copy of the sitter's portrait 'as a reward' usually offset being measured and photographed. Despite their original intent, these survey photographs therefore were, and continue to be, active in the definition and representation of 'self'. Their evolving construction of identity and history in terms of both the sitter and viewer will be the focus of this paper.
Originals: The consequences of photography: reconstructing our view of the early anthropological surveys in the UK