Adjusting the Lens

To commemorate Indigenous Peoples' Day, this week's review analyzes how Indigenous communities "challenge, realign, and renegotiate past histories" through the use of photographic records.

Adjusting the Lens: Indigenous Activism, Colonial Legacies, and Photographic Heritage

ed. by Sigrid Lien and Hilde Wallem Nielssen UBC Press, 2021
320p bibl index, 9780774866613 $45.00, 9780774866620 $45.00

Adjusting the Lens: Indigenous Activism, Colonial Legacies, and Photographic Heritage book cover. Black background with white text. The word lens is written in red, blue, yellow and white bubble letters with images of indigenous people within them.

Perfectly timed and enormously significant, Adjusting the Lens illuminates the ways Indigenous art activists use photographs to challenge, realign, and renegotiate past histories. In-depth case studies analyze photographic traditions as they entwine with cultural heritage. The essays look at how Indigenous communities of North America, Europe, and Australia use historical photographic records in new ways that empower and revitalize community identity. What makes this volume so critically important is that it brings to light practices that rewrite long-held myths of how colonialism utilized photography as evidence, making it the singular historical record. In-depth photographic archive research made returning photographs to indigenous people possible: to Sámi communities in Greenland and Norway, Inuit communities in North America, and Australian aboriginal people and Torres Strait islanders. This book moves Indigenous art activism off the pages of Facebook and into the contemporary global art and cultural studies arena. The editors unpack the intersection of photography and Indigeneity with a transnational perspective and activism that links Indigenous peoples around the globe.

Summing Up: Essential. All readers.
Reviewer: J. Natal, emeritus, Columbia College Chicago
Interdisciplinary Subject: Native American Studies
Subject: Humanities – Art & Architecture – Photography
Choice Issue: Sep 2022

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