Edges of Empire

KNW 2399: Edges of Empire

The Religious Institutions of the Colonized World


The Parish Church of Mexico

A.Briquet took the photograph between 1885 and 1899, depicting The Parish Church in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Originally from France, Abel Briquet was one of the first modern photographers in Mexico, receiving commission from the Mexican railway companies to track the railway progress. Within “Aguas – Calientes, La Parroquia,” there are seven people standing in front of the church perimeter. The men in the picture are completely covered in clothing, possibly because of the sun, as well as sombreros. Conversely, the women in the picture are wearing what looks to be Nun attire with their hoods up. It seems like everyone has either just gotten out of church or are about to go into the church and are posing for the picture. The church itself is exquisitely designed with an uncanny attention to detail throughout. From the outside, the church also appears to have multiple bells and a large cross above the entrance.

From this, it can be deduced that the local population invests heavily in their religion, in this case Catholicism. For instance, it’s observed that the clothes the people are wearing are relatively cheap looking, while the church looks rather expensive. Thus, it can be deduced that the church is a profound piece of architecture that receives its praise from a decently religious populous. Due to the church’s complexity and sixe it can be inferred that the church attracts a large number of people in the region.

One might wonder how far are people of the local region willing to travel to reach such a church? Also, how much of their income are they giving to the church, ten percent, half even? Could the church bells be used to warn the locals against possible trouble approaching?


The Jain Temple & Byculla Railway Station

Jain Temple, Byculla Railway Station, Bombay

William Johnson in conjunction with William Henderson took this photograph between 1855 and 1862 depicting the Jain Temple and Byculla Railway Station in Bombay, India. William Johnson was an Englishman who held many offices within the Indian Government. Although there are no people in “Jain Temple, Byculla Railway Station, Bombay,” it can be inferred that people are usually present from the construction of the railroad. There are pieces of a railway station on the ground, pointing to the fact that there is a railroad being built through this area. Additionally, there are trees, a bridge, a temple, and a nice looking building in the background. The temple is intricate and the building in the background looks to be apart of the temple as it has similar architecture. Both the temple and the building look expensive in their respective constructions, with decorative designs and what looks to be a well-constructed building.

From this information, it can be deduced that the railway station is currently being built through this area to encourage attendance to the temple in the background. The railway would give the temple a greater following and the railway would see more customers, a mutual benefit. Additionally, the temple looks decorative and intricate, pointing to the fact that the people of this region take great pride in their religious practices. The temple must have a rather large attendance considering the shear size of the structure.

One might ask if the foreground is the building of a railway or the recent destruction of one? Again, how are people of the region willing to travel to attend the service at this temple? What religion is being practiced in this temple, Hinduism? Buddhism? Or Islam? What about this region makes the temple more likely to be of a certain religion?


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