Framing the Colonial Encounter?

A discussion of Non-British pictorial sources of the Naga created during colonial times


Starting with the first pictorial depictions of the Naga in mid-19th century, most of the published visual materials of their region are related to British colonial rule in India. This paper examines some of the published and unpublished visual sources created by non-British travellers, some of which are hardly known in today’s academic discourse. Their contents are often different to the well-known British sources as their creators were not military men or administrators, but missionaries, anthropologists or adventure-seeking independant travellers. But how exactely do these sources differ from the photographs or drawings made by British representatives, and what is their relation to the colonial context?

To approach these questions, two collections will be discussed in more detail: the largely unknown photographic archive of the German anthropologist Hans-Eberhardt Kauffmann versus the materials of the Austrian anthropologist Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf. Both travelled in the Naga areas in 1936/37, at times even together, sharing the same informants and drawing from a similar academic background. An examination of their published materials and their general reception in the academic world shows how their differing relations to the British colonial administration influenced their careers even after the end of colonial rule.

Other examples include the visual materials collected by the German-speaking Adolf Bastian, Otto Ehrenfried Ehlers, Lucian Scherman and Herbert Tichy.

Copyright © Alban von Stockhausen