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Visual narratives of Boxer-era China: two German photo albums of the early 1900s

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-11-30, 14:00 authored by Thoralf KleinThoralf Klein

In this article, I examine two ‘semi-public’ German photo albums composed in the immediate aftermath of the international military intervention in China in 1900/01 known as the Boxer War. One was compiled by two members of the German East Asian Expeditionary Corps, Dr Wang and Lieutenant Freiherr von Meerscheidt-Hüllessem, the other by the incoming German minister to Beijing, Alfred von Mumm. I will begin by developing a narrative theory of the photo album. I will use this to demonstrate how the two albums visually (re-)construct a multifaceted journey through space and time in which political and military themes blend with a cultural gaze on China’s architecture as well as its people. The albums are thus situated at the intersection between imperialist intervention, cultural ethnography and modern (foreign) tourism in China. And they reflect various power differentials: not just the one between imperialist agents and victims but equally that between ethnographers and the people they study, as well as the one that characterises modern tourism.

History

School

  • Social Sciences and Humanities

Department

  • International Relations, Politics and History

Published in

International Journal for History, Culture and Modernity

Volume

11

Issue

1-4

Pages

51 - 79

Publisher

Brill

Version

  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This paper was accepted for publication in the journal International Journal for History, Culture and Modernity and the definitive published version is available at https://doi.org/10.1163/22130624-20230010

Acceptance date

2023-08-31

Publication date

2023-12-07

Copyright date

2023

ISSN

2666-6529

eISSN

2213-0624

Language

  • en

Depositor

Dr Thoralf Klein. Deposit date: 29 November 2023

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