Photography’s History in Meiji Japan: New Approaches and Challenges

12.10.2017 Add to calendar

6:15 p.m.

Public Lecture by Dr. Luke Gartlan, University of St Andrews, UK

In the book A Career of Japan (Brill, 2016), Luke Gartlan sought to present the first detailed account of one of the major photographers and personalities of nineteenth-century Japan—the Austrian aristocrat Baron Raimund von Stillfried (1839–1911). In this talk, Gartlan will reflect on the historiographical challenges that were encountered in the writing of this book and the potential avenues that it opened to further research and the challenges that remain. He will present a brief overview of von Stillfried’s career, stepping back from the details of his activities to ask broader questions about the relevance of such close studies to Meiji-period visual culture as a whole. In what ways do the careers of such longterm foreign expatriates re-orient current understandings of nineteenth-century photography in Japan? What was their role in Meiji Japan and how are we to understand their contribution to photography in their adopted country? This talk will argue that the historiographical division between ‘Japanese’ and ‘non-Japanese’ photographers misrepresents the entangled nature of Meiji Japan’s photographic industry. It calls for a much more inclusive approach to the writing of photography’s history at the coalface of cultural exchange, which emphasizes current, ongoing efforts to write shared histories of overlooked photographs and photographers.

This lecture is free and open to the public. It is part of the workshop “Travelling Images: Circulating Photographs, Objects, Knowledge”. For more information, visit:

Organisé par: 
Sophie Junge, Stella Jungmann, Xenia Piëch, Eliane Kurmann, University of Zurich
Lieu de l'événement
University of Zurich - RAA-G-15
Rämistrasse 59
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