Seeing Tibet through soldiers' eyes: photograph albums in regimental museums - NMS Research Repository
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Book chapter

Seeing Tibet through soldiers' eyes: photograph albums in regimental museums

September 2020

Abstract

In his ‘Notes on Photography’ dated 1860 Captain Henry Shaw of the Royal Engineers itemised the uses to which photography could be applied for military and scientific purposes. He notes that over time, capturing scenes, places and persons would prove of personal interest to the photographer and more generally, justifying the physical encumbrance of carrying photographic equipment on campaign. Analysis of photographs and scrap albums recording the 1903–04 ‘Younghusband Mission’ into Tibet takes us beyond straightforward photographic representation into considering the afterlife of the images created on campaign. Evidence of practices of duplication, compilation and curation of images, shows the importance of recognising the album as acomposite artefact, drawing in official and personal photographs. Many of these albums were made after the event, and can include further visual material (eg: newspaper cutting or cartoons). A close reading of the combination of photographic prints on a page, combined with their captions, demonstrates the function of these albums as individual and collective memorials.

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