The British Empire was pictured across a wide spectrum of imagery, from paintings to postcards, and from maps to monuments. Examining the role of photography, this wide-ranging book explores the aesthetics of empire. The development of photography in the Victorian era coincided with the dramatic expansion of the British Empire, and assisted in the exploration, surveying and mapping of territory and the representation of imperial landscapes. To audiences hungry for glimpses of a rapidly expanding world, photographs seemed to capture distant realities, rendering them accessible. And while administrators and anthropologists used photography to picture "racial types", soldiers and hunters armed themselves with cameras in order to capture photographic "trophies" of natives and animals. Drawing on a broad range of visual imagery, including many previously unpublished photographs, the author sets out to show how photographic practices and aesthetics can express and articulate the ideologies of imperialism.
James Ryan is Lecturer in the School of Geography at the University of Oxford.