The text below is concerned with the Powell-Cotton photographs. They are named according to that assigned to them as each photo was scanned. This is for easy reference purposes. I have also put the name, or reference that the photos are referred to in the albums held by the museum. This consists of an album name and an individual number as well as, in some cases, a technical description.
The selection consists of approximately thirty photographs taken from the museum albums. The choice of photos was decided on by what was thought to be, essentially, interesting ethnographic images.They are divided up according to the particular expedition they represent. They either display something that was culturally significant, or representative of the people of Africa at the time that the photos were created. For example, changes in dress can be observed between the early photos and the later ones, and especially when compared to the videos.
Another aspect of interest seen in the photos is in the depiction of cultural practices such as scarification. Some dwelling places have interesting features and are representative of the difference in cultures encountered by Major Powell-Cotton. The photographs should really show people getting on with their lives apparently uninhibited by, or unaware of the camera of but there are very few of these, the majority being obviously staged. In fact, we have included some of Major Powell-Cotton posing with, for example, Pygmies and these are included to show not only various aspects of the Pygmies but also to show how Major Powell-Cotton himself appears, and presumably saw himself whilst in Africa.
The audio description of the text is by Malcolm the assistant curator at the museum, and by recording his description of the pictures we have captured the thoughts of somebody who has a vast knowledge of the museum, though not necessarily as an academic. By using his voice with its strong local dialect (he is from Whitstable; a local town), this gives a sense of the embedded nature of the museum within a local community.
For a comparative study of dialect, hear Mr Powell-Cotton (with his pronounced Cambridge accent) being interviewed. Both Mr Powell-Cotton and Malcolm have very distinct dialects and both have had a long association with the museum and are also involved with different aspects of the public face of the museum.This is of particular importance in the application of visual anthropology to linguistic studies.
In showing these pictures we will portray some idea of the character of the museum, and of the experiences of Major Powell-Cotton, the founder. We are attempting to reproduce, via this medium, something tangible about an aspect of the museum, and whilst one cannot physically touch the exhibits via this media, perhaps a greater connection can be generated than with text alone.
Click on the thumbnail pictures in the individual photo-galleries to see a larger version of a picture.
Congo Trip 1904-07
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