Visual narratives of Boxer-era China: two German photo albums of the early 1900s
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.
- Social Sciences and Humanities
- International Relations, Politics and History
Published inInternational Journal for History, Culture and Modernity
Pages51 - 79
- AM (Accepted Manuscript)
Publisher statementThis 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