James C. Faris

Navajo and Photography: A Critical History of the Representation of an American People
by James C. Faris
Publisher's Description
Anthropologist James Faris challenges the use of photography in his field and in the popular media --calendars and coffee table picture books--as a mythology unconcerned with accurately representing the life experiences of America's native peoples. This extensively researched visual anthology is voluminously filled with historical and contemporary images. An important and lucid confrontation of American nostalgia and the boundaries it creates for the Navajo.
Amazon.com Review
James Faris's Navajo and Photography concerns a world that has nearly disappeared: that of the traditional Navajos, the Indian people of the high desert American Southwest. What Faris calls "non-hostile" Navajos became an essential part of the tourist trade following the Indian Wars of the 19th century, and their representation in photographic images was a carefully crafted departure from the realities of reservation life. The Navajos were depicted as proud yet friendly warriors, not as defeated enemies and wards of a conquering state. Those photographs--and Faris's book contains scores of them--were important instruments in the foundation of a "conventional wisdom" about who Indians were and how they lived. As Faris shows in his commentary, the Navajos did not always willingly participate in this mythmaking process, and sometimes subtly subverted it. Even so, history and anthropology books are full of ersatz images of characters such as the famous "Navajo Brigand of the Black Mountain Country." Faris's text is an important contribution to a growing body of criticism of what might be called "the manufacture of The Other."
ISBN: 0826317251
Publisher: Univ of New Mexico Pr
Hardcover : 392 pages
Language: English
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