Edges of Empire

KNW 2399: Edges of Empire

Methods of Escape


William Johnson captured an emotional photo of four women in the act of converting to Christianity. It begs the question; do they genuinely want to convert to Christianity? It also makes the viewer wonder if they are being coerced to convert, what happens if they do not? Based on appearance and their demeanor, one may guess that the conversion to Christianity may not be consensual. It is also likely that they are practicing their teachings and studies outside in the open so that they can be seen conforming by others. If this is the case, it is probable that William Johnson may have taken the photo in an effort to show how the colonizers are conquering the “Other” by having them conform to their beliefs.

Walter H. Horne’s photo of a Mexican family riding the rods of a stock car evokes sentiment and a gut feeling of oppression towards the Mexicans. The picture causes the viewer to ask, if they are trying to escape something, what is it and where are they hoping to go? One may deduce that the family is so poor and desperate to get away, that they would risk the danger of riding underneath a stock car in a makeshift hammock just to get away from their current situation. With the photo residing on a postcard, it is possible that Horne was trying to frame the Mexican people as reckless savages who do not care about their own wellbeing towards those who would be receiving the postcard.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.

Skip to toolbar