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The Echo of Things
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The Echo of Things is a compelling ethnographic study of what photography means to the people of Roviana Lagoon in the western Solomon Islands. Christopher Wright examines the contemporary uses of photography and expectations of the medium in Roviana, as well as people's reactions to photographs made by colonial powers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. For Roviana people, photographs are unique objects; they are not reproducible, as they are in Euro-American understandings of the medium. Their status as singular objects contributes to their ability to channel ancestral power, and that ability is a key to understanding the links between photography, memory, and history in Roviana. Filled with the voices of Roviana people, The Echo of Things is both a nuanced study of the lives of photographs in a particular cultural setting and a provocative inquiry into our own understandings of photography.
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The Echo of Things is a compelling ethnographic study of what photography means to the people of Roviana Lagoon in the western Solomon Islands and a provocative inquiry into our own understandings of photography.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix Acknowledgments xiii Prologue 1 1. Tie Vaka-The Men of the Boat 19 2. "A Devil's Engine" 59 3. Photographic Resurrection 111 4. Histories 163 Epilogue 191 Notes 195 References 205 Index 217

About the Author

Christopher Wright is Lecturer in Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. From 1992 until 2000, he was Photographic Officer at the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. He is a coeditor of the books Between Art and Anthropology and Contemporary Art and Anthropology.

Reviews

"The Echo of Things is a very fine book based on Christopher Wright's deep understanding of photographic technologies and artifacts and the lives of those artifacts in a specific milieu. Evoking the diverse uses and valuations of images among Solomon Islanders during the 1990s and 2000s, it is classical ethnography in the best sense; it is a dedicated study in which the locals do a lot of the talking." - Nicholas Thomas, author of In Oceania: Visions, Artifacts, Histories "Christopher Wright argues persuasively that photography is thought of in Roviana (Solomon Islands) as a kind of echo, a trace that physically conflates image and sound in reproducing its object. He attends carefully to Roviana perspectives and practices yet deftly locates them in the context of global theorization of photography and its many vernacular uses. Drawing upon richly detailed ethnography, he links analysis of one society's response to the medium to elucidate important debates across anthropology and photography more broadly." - Jane Lydon, author of Eye Contact: Photographing Indigeneous Australians "Echoes of history figured in light and shade across the colonial divide, this precise yet loving account of a non-Western visual culture teaches me once again how little I see but how much Christopher Wright can show about the startling possibilities within those limitations." - Michael Taussig, Columbia University

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