“The Vanishing Race”: Ethnography, Photography, and Absence in The North American Indian

Posted: November 4, 2013

This November, the Core curriculum steps out of the classroom with an exhibit curated by Professor Ken Gonzales-Day. Entitled Edward S. Curtis and “The Vanishing Race”: Ethnography, Photography, and Absence in The North American Indian, this collection will be on display on the in The Claremont Colleges Library throughout the month.

“The works have rarely been exhibited on this scale,” says Gonzales-Day. “The exhibition will allow viewers to experience nearly one hundred well-known and little-known images from one of American’s most controversial photographers.”

Nearly 100 portraits of Native Americans taken by Curtis between the years 1868-1952 were selected. Curtis’ photographs were once seen as representing Native American life prior to contact with Anglo-American cultures; however, scholars and Native communities have recently criticized his work for misrepresenting its subjects.

Lectures in Core 1’s ‘Colonialism and Conquest’ section will specifically discuss the politics and ethics of these photographs as they relate to the course’s examination of violence. Students will visit the library to examine Curtis’ works, and later discuss their observations in class.

The exhibit is an unprecedented opportunity to view one of only 300 known complete sets of Curtis’ portfolios. Be sure to visit the exhibit before it closes on December 1.

« »