Edges of Empire

KNW 2399: Edges of Empire

Societal Roles in Mexico and India


This photo is a very interesting depiction of life in Mexico during the late 1800’s. Taken by Winfield Scott, this shows the life of the extremely poor before the Mexican revolution took place and the impoverished had no liberties. In this photo, there are four females sitting in a row. It looks like they are simply braiding each other’s hair, but due to their economic status and living conditions I think it is more likely that they are picking dirt or bugs out of each other’s hair. It is clear that Winfield Scott took this photo to show the disparity that was occurring during this challenging time period. Due to the fact that they live in a hut made out of sticks, I would deduce that they are of the lowest social status, and are treated horribly by the Spanish and other high status civilians. The youngest girl’s sad face makes me believe that she wishes for a better life. This image makes me ask a few questions. Why are there no men in this photo? Was it the photographer’s intention to take this photo without any men? Does the photographer sympathize with these women, or does he look down upon them like the Spanish must have? This image stirred up many thoughts when I looked at it, but most of all it made me realize just how necessary the revolution was for these types of people in Mexico.

Here we have a photograph of four Indian soldiers. This photo was taken during the 1850’s. However, these soldiers are actually a part of the British Army, making them Sepoy. In this photo they are wearing official military uniform, and have high- quality weapons that must’ve been provided by the British government. This photo was taken in an open field in Mumbia with nothing surrounding them. One of the soldiers is staring at the opposite direction of the camera while the other three are looking at the camera. Based on this, I deduce that these soldiers are all close friends, and may have been in the army together for many years. I also deduce that they are high ranking military officials due to their high quality outfits and demeanor. Some questions I have about this photo are: What are the soldiers doing? Are they standing to pose for this photo, or are they on duty? Why is one of the soldiers looking away from the camera? Certainly the photographer could have taken another photo, so was it his intention to have one of the soldiers be looking the wrong way?

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