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Amy Cox Hall, "Out of Focus: Stories beyond the Frame The Photographs of the Yale Peruvian Expeditions (1911-1915)"
Amy Cox Hall, "Out of Focus: Stories beyond the Frame The Photographs of the Yale Peruvian Expeditions (1911-1915)"
WhenThursday, May 16, 2019, 4 – 6 p.m.
Campus locationCommunications Building (CMU)
Campus room120
Event typesLectures/Seminars
Event sponsorsAnthropology (Danny Hoffman), Comparative History of Ideas (Maria Elena Garcia), History (Adam Warren), Latin American and Caribbean Studies (Tony Lucero and Monica Rojas), Simpson Center for the Humanities (Rachel Arteaga)
Target Audiencefaculty and students

Photography has been inextricably linked with Machu Picchu since Hiram Bingham first brought his Kodak to the site on July 24, 1911. Approximately 12,000 negatives were brought to the field over the course of the three expeditions and were enlisted in the task of surveying the landscape known as Peru. Ultimately, the cameras were used for various ends, including: evidencing Machu Picchu as a monumental discovery; as an aide to survey the landscape for the expeditions’ topographers; and as a documentary tool to picture local maladies and Indian types as part of the teams’ ongoing anthropometric project. Returning from the field, some of the photographs produced by Kodak’s cameras were used as illustration for newspaper and magazine articles; as art for display in galleries and exhibitions; and as evidence of a nation’s noble Incan past. Although Bingham and his team were detailed in the photographing of the site and its surroundings, only a small fraction of their photographs have been reproduced for public view. In this talk, I discuss the corpus of images stored in 23 albums to consider the potential of the expeditionary photograph. In particular, I highlight other stories that might be told that trouble popular narratives and instead reflect the fragility of such a vision.

Amy Cox Hall is a cultural anthropologist with specializations in Peru and the United States. Her research has investigated a range of topics including: photography and its use in early anthropology and expeditionary science; heritage politics and the uses of history; and food, gender and modernity in Peru. Her work has appeared in Ethnohistory, History of Photography, Religion, Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, Journal of Political Ecology, and various edited book collections. Her book, Framing a Lost City: Science, Photography and the Making of Machu Picchu, was published by University of Texas Press in 2017. She currently teaches at Amherst College.

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