Ways of seeing...

Submitted by Jeeraik009 on Fri, 10/21/2011 - 15:13

 

Princeton University's collection of photographs related to the Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865 was the highlight of the National Library of Jamaica's Distinguished Lecture recently. Even though the talk was intended to focus on works already in the national archive, it was easy to see why UWI lecturer Clinton Hutton might have been seduced by this rare album. Acquired in 2009, the collection of 165 albumen photos documented by Julie Mellby details the horrific events of 1865 when more than 500 were slain on both sides of the post-slavery revolt. Portraits of military commanders, victims, rebel leaders and even the maroons who aided the British in suppressing the rebellion, all figure in the album thought to have been owned by Alexander Dudgeon Gulland, a surgeon in the British Army. The lecture underscored the popularity of these types of images in the 19th century when photography served to illustrate overseas incidents in ways that might be the equivalent of today's cable television news. But the prevalence of photographs such as Colonal Fyfe and the Maroons shown here, which allowed for reconstruction of events to meet the demands of faraway audiences, also underscores how technology can be manipulated to re-stage history, and that seeing is not always believing...