Edges of Empire

KNW 2399: Edges of Empire

Jan Term 2016 Visual Culture Projects

Alexandro Arreola-Garcia: Treatment of Natives in India and Mexico

The treatment of natives in both colonial India and post-colonial Mexico is astounding. The British were a bit more thoughtful about their mistreatment – regarding their slow push of British ideals and values – while Mexico had a clash of classes with the natives on the butt end of the joke. The photos discussed will be set during the period of railway construction in India and the beginnings of the Mexican Revolution.

To begin, in the photo “Execution in Mexico,” we can see the true butchery of the natives. Two children, and I stress, CHILDREN, were hanged to prove the true power of the Mexican government. We can see the child on the right with his arm at a 90 degree angle, most likely struggling to free himself from bonds that inevitably led to his death. On the same child, we can see his pants pulled down, which I believe is an act of further humiliation. This all was to prove the powerful grips of the Mexican government, which at this time was receiving a rebellion from the natives. Another chilling portion of the photo is the Mexican bandito staring directly into the camera straight faced, with no expression to be seen. I could infer that he is containing his rage and aggression. The Anglo-Americans in the back are seen staring at the gruesome scene which is a natural reaction. But the native staring into the lens, into our eyes, as an act of intimidation. This, and many other ruthless executions led to the storming of the National Palace in Mexico City.

In the next two photos, which are of the same scene, the setting is daytime. This is surprising to me, frankly, because when have you heard of a successful siege done guns blazing in the daytime? It isn’t like the natives are dressed incognito, they are arriving on horses probably chanting something to do with the overthrow of President Madero. We see bodies strewed across the plaza, with horses also occupying the cold cement. What this tells me is that the government sees the rebels, which are the natives, as equal to animals. In fact, in British publishing, the Mexicans are portrayed as “barbarous” and the British believed that Madero had an “inability to keep order” with the Mexican’s “unruly behavior” and because of this, the Mexicans “could not handle political freedom well” (Hidalgo, 326). No bodies are cleaned up, just left to decompose. The guards are seen calm, with guards having a bird’s eye view on the entire plaza. I can say that President Madero was most likely predicting a possible uprising and storming on the palace. In the other photo, a guard appears to be excited, probably taken during the battle itself, with a large crowd in the background watching the entertaining beasts dying at the whim of the government.

In like manner, in India the treatment isn’t as barbaric as the Mexicans. However, it is still horrid the conditions the Indians worked in and received little to no aid in the construction. I would think if I was the British, “we should get this done as efficiently as possible with little to no casualties.” This was not the case, however. Even worse, the British had no intentions for this railway to be a means of mass transport for the Indians. In fact, it was meant to carry Indian raw materials to the ports to be shipped to Britain (Tharoor). As we can see in the three photos, there are crowds of poor, low caste Indians. I can infer their status because of their lack of clothing, only wearing enough to cover their genitals. We see the dusty wasteland, with no green or life around, primitively using baskets on top of their heads to carry equipment. In the photo with the bridge, the British clearly did not care about the sketchiness of the bridge that the Indians walked on, supported by thin branches of wood, which appears to collapse at any moment. The British only cared about money, which even then the laborers and the rest of the Indian population were taxed to make massive returns on investment for the British (Tharoor). No matter what, the Indians were at a loss. This loss is recurring throughout the entirety of the colonial rule.

Photographs courtesy of DeGolyer Library

Reference URLS (in order of photos):

Works Cited:

Hidalgo, Dennis R.. “The Evolution of History and the Informal Empire: La Decena Trágica in the British Press”. Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 23.2 (2007): 317–354. Web.

Tharoor, Shashi. “Opinion: How a Debate Was Won in London Against British Colonisation of India, by Shashi Tharoor.” NDTV, 23 Sept. 2014. Web. 11 Jan. 2016.


Tyler Coffin: Depiction of Native Peoples in 19th Century Photography

Portraiture during the 19th century, even when created with a camera and film, was intended to convey a specific message about its subject.

The first photograph, A Mahratta Chief and his Attendants, was taken by William Johnson and William Henderson, who are responsible for publishing some of the earliest photographs of the people of India (Desmond, 55). This photograph is an excellent example of portraiture of the upper castes in India; a chief sits with two attendants, who differ from him clearly in pose and attire. Johnson and Henderson worked together in Bombay to produce the Indian Amateurs Photographic Album, which would be seen by people residing in India as well as in the metropole (Johnson). This photo is especially interesting when contrasted with Madrassee Shoemakers, also by William Johnson, which depicts five lower-caste Indian workers. Their status is indicated by their clothing and downtrodden look. Though the title of the work makes reference to cobblers, there are no shoes to be found in the photograph. Instead, there are three men with little-to-no facial hair and one with a beard. Each of them wears disheveled headwear, which also serves to indicate their low social status. The only woman stands in the center of the four men, wearing coarse, dirty clothing creating a stable, harmonious composition and serving to alert the viewer that the photograph has been staged.

The third photograph, Portrait of a Young Man, is attributed to the Schlattman Hermanos and depicts a young man, probably of Spanish descent, with trimmed hair and mustache. He wears formal Western clothing and is alone in the photograph, without even a background to give context to his portrait. This lack of context is itself a hint to his social status, as one can assume that he was photographed in a studio with proper lighting and backdrops, rather than an outdoor setting. These details are especially telling given the fourth photograph, entitled Charbonnier, by Cruces y Campa. This photograph depicts a barefoot street vendor in heavy, coarse clothing and a hat to keep the sun off his face. He carries a large basket on his back of what the viewer can assume from the title of the work to be coal or charcoal. The worker stands stock still among rocks and tall grass, and stars straight into the camera, which, as with Madrassee Shoemakers, serves to alert the viewer that the photograph has been staged and was more than likely shot in a studio with props.

All of these photos convey specific messages about their contents, and specifically about social stratification and “Otherness” in India and in Mexico. In the Johnson photos, that is done through power of gaze, clothing/religious dress, and setting, as well as through the figures’ spatial relationships to one another. In Charbonnier, it is done through clothing and setting. In Portrait of a Young Man, by contrast, the details are less clear. It’s obvious that the photographer (or the subject) is trying to hide the “Otherness” through dress and grooming, but the “Schlattman Hermanos” and “Espíritu Santo nº1 México” stamps on the photograph are definite markers that the photograph is from the periphery. This shows us that regardless of whether the proof is immediately evident or hidden in the details, the point of view and intent of the photographer is always visible, even in a medium touted to show people “as they really are.”


Works Cited:

DESMOND, R.. (1985). PHOTOGRAPHY IN VICTORIAN INDIA. Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, 134(5353), 48–61. Retrieved from


JOHNSON, W., 1863-66, The oriental races and tribes, residents and visitors of Bombay, (London: W.J. Johnson). Retrieved from

Photos courtesy of the DeGolyer Library.


Cameron Dube: Rising from Oppression

As nations colonized different regions of the world, the native or indigenous people were often faced with oppression and racism. When comparing images of the men who fought in the military in India, significant differences can be seen in the military uniforms and the equipment the soldiers are utilizing. The British men are all mounted on cavalry, while the Indian soldiers are on foot. The European privilege is seen in the soldiers and also in the attire of the men in Mexican photos. The men in the mining photo are dressed in European attire and the men on horseback are in tradition Mexican clothing displaying their possible roots or influence.


While India was under rule of the British crown, many of the goods used and produced by the Indian people were taxed by Britain, even goods like salt. In return, the British spent forty percent of the income from tax on their army, similar to the way the East India Company maintain an army previously. The British had around 20,000 troops to rule over the 300 million Indians during the British Raj. (National Archives) Even though a significant portion of the money spent on the army was from Indian taxes, the Indian soldiers were not benefitting from the money spent. Since the British first found their way to India, they continually treated the Indians as second-class citizens in their own country. As seen in the photographs, the Sikh Soldiers are left to battle on foot while their British partners gallop across the battlefields on horses. The British soldiers are given superior technology over the Sikhs they will be fighting with. Britain uses India’s money for the army; yet, its own citizens are not able to benefit from the advantages provided to the British soldiers. Similar to the Boston Tea Party revolt in America, the Indian people were tired of being neglected and overtaxed by the British Government. The continued belittlement of the Indian people by the British led to social reform movements like the Salt March in 1930 by Gandhi and eventually the Partition of India in 1947.


Just as the British were oppressing the people of India, the Anglo-Americans and Mexican dictators were mistreating the Mexicans. After Mexico relinquished itself from Spanish colonial rule in 1810, the mestizos and other Mexicans had the “basic belief that a few wealthy landowners could no longer continue the old ways of Spanish colonial rule.” (EDSitement) As seen in the first photo, a group of men from European decent are in control of the mines. These men would have Anglo-Americans or other Europeans working in the mines because a Foreign Miners Tax was implemented in 1850. The Mexicans were known as some of the hardest working and best miners in the world from their practice with the silver mines in the heart of Mexico; however, these opportunities were taken away from them. The final photo shows Mexican men taking up arms in the fight for the Mexican Revolution against the seven-term dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz. Diaz was seen as helping the rich get richer while the common man continued to struggle. The oppression of the common man led to the revolution in 1910.



Reference URLs:

Indian Soldiers

Mounted British Cavalry in India

Leaders of the Mexican Mining & Smelting Company

Seven Mexican Men on Horseback



“Living in the British Empire: India.” Case Study 4. The National Archives, n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2016. <>.

“The Mexican Revolution: November 20th, 1910 | EDSITEment.” The Mexican Revolution: November 20th, 1910 | EDSITEment. National Endowment for the Humanities, n.d. Web. 13 Jan. 2016. <>.


Photos Courtesy of the DeGolyer Library


Andy Embody: Social Class Hierarchy as it Relates to Labor in India and Mexico

One consistent trend seen in both the Indian and Mexican marketplace of goods was the use of lower class people in manufacturing, packaging, and selling goods to other people in the community. These four pictures all shower lower class people either creating, packaging, or selling a good to people who have the money to buy them. There would be a circular motion of resources going from the wealthy to the lower class people and money going back to the wealthy. In Mexico, for example, the wealthy owned patches of land that lower class people would buy and grow different products to sell, but a portion of the money would go back to the wealthy. This exploitation of lower class people was seen in both India and Mexico throughout their respective independence movements and revolutions.

Let us examine the two pictures to see the themes seen in Mexico during this time period. In the photograph, Selling Flowers at Market, taken by Charles Betts Waite, we can see multiple groups of people all sitting on the ground at a market with large bushels of flowers in front of each group. These people are lower class families that would be victims to the circulation of resources I previously mentioned (Haynes, p. 229). The reason they are victims to the upper class people is because Diaz would distribute “ejidos,” or pieces of land suitable for agriculture, to wealthy people and would result in a further separation between the social classes (Walker, p. 241). The other photograph, Fancy Pottery Venders, also taken by Charles Betts Waite, shows some venders of a little higher status than the previous one. The products they are selling are very nice pieces of pottery, made by indigenous people. These pieces of pottery are very difficult to make, which means the skills of the people selling them are more respected than the skills of the people who grow and pick flowers. These are some lower class people that are better respected because of their artisan style skills.

Now let us look at the two photographs from India, as they both also depict lower class people performing tasks that are essential to the Indian economy. The picture of the two people sitting shirtless, entitled Knife Grinders by William Johnson, on the ground using a sharpener are knife grinders, which is a task that is typically performed by simple workers and not people of greater intellect. These knifes that they create are then sold by wealthy class businessmen and they reap the benefits of the work done by lower class people. This process creates a bigger disparity between upper and lower class people. The second picture, The Cotton Market by William Johnson, shows a group of lower class people working outside of a cotton market and packaging the product. Cotton is one of the largest exports of India so it is a very important part to the Indian economy. It is another example of how the rich people in India use the work of lower class people to increase their profitability.

Both the Indian and Mexican economies rely very much on the work of the lower class people, but only the wealthy people can see the profits. This disparity between the two social classes creates a great economic problem for the lower class that further separated the two classes.


Photo credit to DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist University.

Work Cited:

Haynes, Keith A. “Dependency, Postimperialism, and the Mexican Revolution: An Historiographic Review.” Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 7.2 (1991): 225-51.

Walker, David W. “Homegrown Revolution: The Hacienda Santa Catalina del Alamo y Anexas and Agrarian Protest in Eastern Durango, Mexico, 1897-1913.” The Hispanic American Historical Review. 72.2 (1992): 239-273.

Cotton Market:

Knife Grinders:

Fancy Pottery Vendors:

Selling Flowers at Market:


Matt Fishman: Railroad to Economic Growth

The construction of railroad structures during 19th century proved to be a very important part of the histories of both India and Mexico. Not only did the railroads transport people, resources, and goods across thousands of miles, but also they made big countries and much of the world seem smaller and more connected. Having trains and railroads brought economic benefit to both India and Europe, however, this economic growth led to social uprising.

In India, the railroad construction process pointed out the fact that there was a caste system. The first photo that was taken on the Bengal Nagpur Railway, shows men from both India and Britain. The clothing displayed in the photograph points this out, because the men from Britain are wearing fancier, western clothes while the Indian people are wearing clothing more suitable for working. It is as if the Europeans in the picture are the engineers that are in charge of the construction process, while the Indians are the ones who will be doing the manual labor. You can see that the Europeans are posing, while the Indians are continuing to work. The second picture shows a railroad station that is connected to a cotton farm. The train leaving the station is filled to the brim with cotton, and additionally there are cotton stacks all around the station. With the invention of railways came lots of trade and transportation, and “even before independence, India had the world’s third largest rail system, a major catalyst for subsequent development” (Schwartzberg). However, at this time India was not very industrialized, so the British would take the raw goods (cotton) out of India. Back in England, the British would industrialize the cotton, then send it back to India and sell it for a premium. With the unfair treatment the people of India were unhappy which caused a fight for independence.

Similarly, in Mexico trains and railways played a vital role in its colonization. Just like in India, there was a similar caste system. The first photo shows the brand new ‘Ferrocarril Mexicano’ steam locomotive with a Spaniard man on the front. If you look closely there is a Mexican man working on the train in the background. The clothing on the Spaniard is clean, and fancy, while the Mexican man seems to be in more bland, working clothes. The Spaniard man was most likely in charge of the construction of the locomotive, while the Mexican man was the handy man who did all of the actual work. Additionally, the locomotives were used to transport items such as copper and lead and, “they emphasized how the railroad played a crucial role in connecting local, national, and international markets allowing for economic growth” (Matthews, 252). In the second photo, the picture shows Mexican troops being transported across Mexico for their next assignment. These railroads in Mexico weren’t only an economic gain, they were also a militaristic gain. However, this is ironic because the Mexican troops were eventually the ones to destroy railroads throughout Mexico, because they were rebelling against their leader, Porfirio Diaz.

Although the Mexican people were rebelling against their own government, and the Indian people were building for the British, the construction of the railroads into both countries brought economic and militaristic gains.


Ref URLs for photos:

BengalNagpur Tunnel:





Works Cited:

Matthews, Michael. “de Viaje: Elite Views of Modernity and the Porfirian Railway Boom”. Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 26.2 (2010): 251–289. Web.

Schwartzberg, Joseph. “Geography.” Encyclopedia of India. Ed. Stanley Wolpert. Vol. 2. Detroit: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2006. 136-146. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 13 Jan. 2016.


These photographs are courtesy of the DeGolyer Library.


Allie Garcia: Dress to Impress… Or Not”

With the introduction of commercial photography in the mid-19th century came a drive to document different classes of people all around the world. The following Indian and Mexican photographs from the late 19th and early 20th centuries are clear examples of how differences in class are shown based on the subjects’ dress.

The first photograph, Lowana Women, by William Johnson shows three Indian women posing against a fence. The Lowana caste is typically made up of merchants; therefore these women are merchants. The photograph of the three women was cut out and placed against a blank background, thereby emphasizing the women’s appearances. These women wear long, simple patterned saris and bold jewelry such as arm bangles, chunky necklaces, earrings, anklets, and even a nose adornment. Compare these Lowana women to the Dhed Women of Surat also photographed by William Johnson. These women are part of a working, lower caste as seen by their shorter, plainer saris and lack of jewelry. The Dhed women have the back part of their saris tucked in, showing their feet and lower legs, which is ideal for working in fields. Less cloth (shorter saris) mean less material, therefore cheaper price.

The second photograph, Comfortable Gosavis, by William Johnson and William Henderson shows two Indian men posed in front of a cityscape background. The metadata tag “Mahants”, refers to religious superiors (chief priests of temples or monastery leaders) (Ames 87). Mahants are usually Brahmins. Gosavis are an Indian sub-caste found among Hindus who belong to one of the varnas (Brahmin is one) (Feldhaus 77). Observe the men’s dress: quality material clothes without rips and stains, turbans, nice shoes, scarves, and even jewelry. From these men’s dress it can be deduced that they are part of an upper caste.

The third photograph, Lily, by Scott Winfield shows a young girl sitting on a house porch staring directly at the camera, implying this photograph is posed. The girl’s dress is telling: a clean, white cotton day dress (hot Mexican climate) without rips or stains. The dress is long, hitting at or below the knees. The girl’s physical appearance is also important: she is light skinned, probably white, with brownish hair and some lighter blonde highlights. From the girl’s dress and physical appearance one can deduce she is probably part of the middle to upper class. If she were of a lower class, her skin would be darker and her clothes would not be as clean and well kept.

The fourth photograph, A Giant Mahogany, by an unknown photographer depicts four men standing in front of a large mahogany tree on a Mexican rubber plantation. The photographer isolates the fourth man to the far right. Yet again, the subjects’ dress unfolds details about the men’s status: all four men are dressed in pants with suspenders/belts, nice leather boots, white button-up shirts, and hats (on three men). However, the isolated man wears an overcoat, suggesting he is part of a higher status than the other men. All of these men are dressed too nicely to be plantation workers, because such dirty work would result in stained and ripped clothes. Instead, they are probably part of plantation management and oversee plantation workers. The isolated man is still probably part of the plantation management, but he appears to be higher up than the other three men based on his dress and isolation.

Ultimately, much can be deduced of photograph’s subjects simply by meticulously observing their dress. Photographers dressed his subjects in such a revealing way to allow the audience to determine what is going on in the picture.

Reference URLs

Lowana Women            

Comfortable Gosavis    


A Giant Mahogany        

Works Cited

Ames, Michael. M.. (1971). Indian Castes Old and New. Pacific Affairs, 44(1), 81–91.

Feldhaus, Anne. (1982). God and Madman: Guṇḍam Rāuḷ. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 45(1), 74–83.

Mraz, John. (2004). Picturing Mexico’s Past: Photography and “Historia Gráfica”. South Central Review, 21(3), 24–45.

Ramanna, Mridula. (1989). Social Background of the Educated in Bombay City: 1824-58. Economic and Political Weekly, 24(4), 203–211.

Photographs courtesy of DeGolyer Library.


Ian Johnston-Schmidt: Decoding Social Status and Rank in Visual Documents

Each series of photos has a congruent theme that is present in each photograph. This theme is the classification of native peoples, of India and Mexico, by the colonizer, England and Spain respectively. This can be decoded by analyzing the visual components of the photos such as the choice of clothes, subject positioning, and the props in the photograph.

The first picture I have chosen features two Gosavis. Gosavis are apart of a particular sect of Hinduism, the Gosain. “The Gosain are a community that can be found all over India, but live in larger numbers in the central and northern states, particularly in the Gonda and Gorakhpur districts of Uttar Pradesh,” (People of India, 2016). The Gosain are pictured here in very ornate clothing, the intricate designs and patterns of the robes and tunics. They also are very light and fair-skinned for Indians, which the British would have found more acceptable, for it is closer to how Europeans looked. They are also set on a large balcony overlooking a city with a large temple in the background. This symbolizes some wealth and stature if they are able to afford such intricate clothes and large residency. Being apart of the religious caste and being able to afford such material possessions suggests that they are favored by the colonizers because they are the light-skinned, religious or wealthy caste which the British looked towards to help colonize the mass of people and the British did not want to intervene on religious aspects either. So the implications of the British not enforcing very strict religious laws to dissuade a rebellion has engendered the unparalleled wealth and status accumulation of the top religious caste within the caste society in India. In comparison, the latter two pictures of the collection show groups of people within the lower groups of the caste system. First, the group of Police Officers of Bombay, represent a middle class group of men in India. They are featured in the photograph with some english clothing and footwear, presumably their uniforms. They still have their native headdress and some are wearing native sandals. They are darker-skinned than the Gosain, suggesting they are socially lower then Gosain and their European colonizers. All of the native indians were limited to the bottom positions of the police force, where almost every high ranking office was held by a European.“From 1893 most new entrants to the top échelon were appointed by examination or selection in the UK,” (British Library, 2016). To build off this, the last photograph features two men whose vocation are knife grinders. They are pictured with only a loincloth and no shoes. They are outside working a simple job and very dark skinned suggesting they are lower class than the police and the Gosain.

Continuing along with this theme we now look at the series of photos from Mexico. To begin, the first photograph depicts a cafe setting in Chapultepec, a park in Mexico City. It has several men in the photo some upper class, which are the men with top hats and tuxedos and some servers, who are in their uniforms. The lack of people and the street, which is paved, and lined with horse and buggies suggests that this is upper class portion of the park. From the aristocracy we progress down the social rank to the working class in the second photograph. This family is pictured with their animals in front of their small home. These animals are not pets but rather serve different functions for the family around their land in Mexico.  Their simple and plain clothes do not reflect the same stature that the subjects in the first picture were wearing, tuxedos and top hats which suggests they are of lower social rank. They are dark skinned which is not what Europeans consider to be pure and thus they are socially lower. Lastly, the final picture shows a large group of merchants selling flowers outside a Cathedral in Mexico City. This depicts the lower class, who do not work or produce anything they are simply selling little trinkets. They too are darker skinned and wear some of the same clothes as the family in the working class.

Ref. URL :

Work Cited:

British Library. “Indian Police Services.” Indian Police Services. British Library, n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2016. < indianpoliceservices/police.html>.

People of India. “Gosain – People Groups of India.” <i>People Groups of India</i>. WordPress, 2016. Web. 11 Jan. 2016. &lt;;.

Photographs courtesy of DeGolyer Library Digital Collections at Southern Methodist University[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”759″ img_link_large=”yes” link=”″][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”761″ img_link_large=”yes” link=”″][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”762″ img_link_large=”yes” link=”″][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”763″ img_link_large=”yes” link=”″][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”764″ img_link_large=”yes” link=”″][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”765″ img_link_large=”yes” link=”″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Madison Ladymon
The Influence of the Railroads on Economic Expansion” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left” google_fonts=”font_family:Montserrat%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]Railroads in both India and Mexico served as revolutionary means for advancing society, transporting both goods and people, and driving business. They were crucial in the economic and social development of each area. Each photograph depicts the development of the railroad in each country, touching on everything from the construction of the railroad and the people that built them, to the part that the railroad played in the economic and social growth of India and Mexico.   During the time of Porifio Diaz’s rule, between 1876 and 1910, “foreign investment grew 30-fold, of which railroad construction received 30%, more than that of any other sector” (Van Hoy, 35).

The first photograph, depicting a crowded train depot platform in Mexico, shows working class men loading equipment onto the trains, as well as boarding themselves. There are also a few children on the platform. The men are possibly transporting gold, as this was a prominent trade during this time. The gold may have been coming from California, or men are being loaded onto the train to work in the mines. Gold was an important and lucrative trade during the 19th century. One man, prominently centered in the photograph, appears to be ready to load a wagon onto the train.

In the second photograph from Mexico, a well-dressed man in Western clothing, possibly middle-to upper-middle class stands in front of a train car loaded full with what appears to be coal or rocks. With such high concentrations on gold trade in Mexico during this time, the train car is possibly transporting materials from a mine. The man appears to be a representative of the railroad company, or a mine owner.

The first photograph of India depicts ten Indian railroad workers, all gathered among construction equipment and scaffolding just inside the entrance to a tunnel for the railroad. It appears as if the tunnel is going through the side of a mountain. The group of workers is dirty and overworked, probably all from a lower class within Indian society. The railroad in India revolutionized transport of both goods and people throughout the country. Agricultural development was largely dictated by the British during the British raj, with the leadership deciding which people grew what. The railroad provided faster transportation of goods throughout the country, and, in the wake of the nationalist movement and Indian independence, allowed for the growth of agriculture free of British dictation.

Lastly, the final photo of India depicts a single railroad track with the end of a train car either moving toward the camera or away. The landscape is covered with trees, but no people are present in the photograph. The railroads in India cut through land and villages, but in turn, they also united the country through faster means of transportation. This photo depicts the vast amount of countryside that the railroad covered, giving way to a new era in India.


Reference URLs:


Works Cited:

Van Hoy, Teresa M.. 2000. “La Marcha Violenta? Railroads and Land in 19th-century Mexico”. Bulletin of Latin American Research 19 (1). [Wiley, Society for Latin American Studies (SLAS)]: 33–61.

Ajita Mattoo. 2000. “Indian Railways: Agenda for Reform”. Economic and Political Weekly 35 (10). Economic and Political Weekly: 771–78.


Photos Courtesy of DeGolyer Library.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”748″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”824″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”819″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”822″ img_link_large=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Jackson Miller
The Railway Connection” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left” google_fonts=”font_family:Montserrat%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]Prior to the construction of railways, trade was conducted mostly by sea in both India and Mexico, which made it difficult to transport goods to different areas of the world. The introduction of the railways connected these countries, and made business possible in areas previously thought to be impossible. While India’s railway system was built during Britain’s colonization, Mexico’s was built post colonialism. Railways brought about much change in both India and Mexico politically, socially, and economically, but also exploited the people who built the railways without benefitting them.

Looking at the images Bengal Nagpur Railway Construction Photograph No. 16 and Bengal Nagpur Railway Construction Photograph No. 41, one can see the amount of resources and labor that went into the construction of these railroads, and the conditions these men suffered while working. In images Bengal Nagpur Railway Construction Photograph No. 16, one can see that the workers are poor based of the minimal clothing the workers are wearing. In addition, the terrain appears to be very hazardous. In addition, the bridge appears highly unstable for the amount of people on it while only being held up by a few sticks. Railways needed to pass through all sorts of terrain, even if it was dangerous for the workers. In Bengal Nagpur Railway Construction Photograph No. 41, one can see a tunnel with workers posed around it. Again, the workers appear to be wearing minimal clothing that demonstrates their social position in British-Indian society. Most likely, the workers had to blast through the mountain using explosives of some sort, which would have been very dangerous. Also, the lighting in the photo, much like in Bengal Nagpur Railway Construction Photograph No. 16, is very bright. This is probably due to the fact these workers were forced to labor in very hot and dry conditions in deserts as it appears in the two images. These two images show how the British were the initial benefiters of the railways system. “Though trade did increase, the presence of railroads did not greatly alter the economy, as India did not Industrialize” (Colonialism: an international, social, cultural, and political encyclopedia p.576). Indian tax money basically funded the project, while the British did not pay out of their own pockets at all. These photos show the horrible conditions Indians suffered during the introduction of railways.

Much like the Indians, Mexicans were forced to work under difficult conditions with under President Diaz who ordered the construction of the railways in Mexico. While observing the photo, Puente de Ozumba, the terrain appears to be very uneven and rocky. It is possible that the men to the right are giving orders to the men dressed in white. The men to the right are wearing uniforms, so it can be inferred that they are working under the instruction of President Diaz. Also, although completed, the bridge appears to have required very strenuous and difficult construction, as it seems to be about thirty feet high at its highest point. One can see the economic change that railways brought in, Wholesale Loads of Mexican Baskets. The three men appear to be carrying baskets with the intent to sell. The men are walking and appear to be wearing light clothing with hats, possibly because they have to travel a long distance. Beneath their feet appears to be a railroad. The railroad could be insignificant, but could also be the means of how the baskets got to the region where these men are selling them. Railroads expanded the economy in Mexico and allowed business to take place in locations previously thought impossible. Business could now take place in rural areas as, “The railways expanded to over 19,000 kilometers of track during this time” (Van Hoy p.35).

The construction of the railways caused the lower class to suffer, as seen in the photos, because they did not benefit directly from the construction of railways in both India and Mexico. However, while the upper class gained immediate economic benefit with the expansion of trade, the railways served as a way for the countries to unite and end colonization. In India, Gandhi’s passive resistance led way to Nationalism and independence from Britain, and in Mexico unfair treatment of workers caused the country to unite and start the Mexican Revolution.

Reference URL’s


Works Cited:

Page, Melvin E., and Penny M. Sonnenburg. Colonialism: An International, Social, Cultural, and Political Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. N.p.: ABC-CLIO, 2003. Print. A-M.


Van Hoy, Teresa M. “La Marcha Violenta? Railroads and Land in 19th Century Mexico.” Bulletin of Latin American Research. University of Texas at Austin, TX, USA, 1 Sept. 1999. Web. 6 Apr. 2015.


Photographs Courtesy of Degolyer Library[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”863″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”851″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”820″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”821″ img_link_large=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Grant Murray
Military and Trade: Both Funding and Overthrowing Governments” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left” google_fonts=”font_family:Montserrat%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]Two of the largest economic drivers in existence are military and trade; however, the two take very different roles depending on place and time. Observe the images titled Indian Soldiers, taken by Lala Deen Dayal, and The Cotton Market, Bombay, taken by William Johnson and William Henderson. In both of these photos, the space is quite shallow, meaning the amount of space behind the focal point of each image is relatively little. Additionally, their layout makes it easy for the audience to quickly familiarize themselves with the two spaces, and both images are comprised of relatively few elements. In other words, most of what they contain readily meets the eye, and it does not take much time for one to acquaint themselves with these images. As a result of this, it is easy for a viewer to readily accept these as two typical scenes of military and trade. This is noteworthy because these are both two extremely powerful economic drivers, but the question one needs to ask is, for whose economy? These images are captured in British colonized India, and at this time, Britain was reaping enormous rewards from cotton production as well as using the Indian military for its own benefit. In the words of Mark Curtis, “the principle victims of British policies are Unpeople – those whose lives are deemed worthless, expendable in the pursuit of power and commercial gain.” (Unpeople, Britain’s Secret Human Rights Abuses, p. 203) Thus in essence, these photos are depicting Indian trade and Indian military acting largely for the benefit of the British government.

Let us now compare these photos to two early 20th century images titled Practicing Outside the Arsenal and Fancy Pottery Vendors from a time period in Mexico described by Alan Knight as “a genuinely national revolution.” (Encyclopedia of Mexico, vol.2, p. 873) From the very first glance, both of these photos are significantly more chaotic than those in India. Indian Soldiers and The Cotton Market are comprised of three to four elements each, whereas these images in Mexico contain significantly more for one to observe. This is further exemplified by the structure of the images – for instance, compare the single line of men in Indian Soldiers to the staggered formation in Mexico City. Additionally, the soldiers in India were all of uniform dress whereas the clothes on the men in Mexico are greatly varied, suggesting their rank or social status is inconsistent throughout. To further continue this theme, the space in both of these photos is much deeper than either of the scenes depicted in India, and unlike the openness in Indian Soldiers and The Cotton Market, the disarray in these two images combined with an almost incomprehensible amount of space helps impart the chaotic state of Mexico at the beginning of the Mexican Revolution. This inverse presentation of images is directly in line with the roles of the picture subjects themselves compared to those in India. In other words, instead of docile Indian soldiers and cotton vendors carrying out their respective business in service to their government, this is a time in Mexico which citizens, including vendors such as these, are working to arm themselves in preparation for the revolution against their government as is then shown in Practicing Outside the Arsenal.

In total, these four images are captured in such a way that enables their viewers to see not only different but opposing uses of trade and military, as the government was the beneficiary in India whereas in Mexico it was nothing other than the target itself.

Alan Knight, “Mexican Revolution: Interpretations” in Encyclopedia of Mexico, vol. 2, p. 873. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn 1997.

Curtis, Mark. Unpeople: Britain’s Secret Human Rights Abuses. London: Vintage, 2004. Print.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”796″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”799″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”798″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”797″ img_link_large=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Will Nollmann
Railroads Connecting, People, Cities, and Trade Markets ” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left” google_fonts=”font_family:Montserrat%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]Railroads were playing an important role in the colonization and economic improvement in India and Mexico. Railroads created infrastructure and by integrating markets and increasing trade, this helped grow these two respective economies. Railroads allowed India and Mexico to increase their imports and exports, and also attributed to people becoming more connected between cities, which could have contributed to the native people of both countries desiring independence from their foreign rulers.

Both photographs that I have chosen for the India section depict the same idea. Both photographs show railroad workers and engineers posing for the camera in front of the entrance of a tunnel. Both of these photographs are important to show that railroads are an important part of the development of Indian infrastructure. By building railroads through these mountain ranges India was able to connect their cities, so that they could increase trade and make public transportation faster too. It took a lot of manpower and resources to blast through the mountain ranges and that is why the engineers are also pictured. Railroads gave India the ability to connect cities and trade centers, “ We think there are two reasons. First, railways were far superior to the existing transport technology in India. Bullock carts were not an effective substitute to railways and India did not have an extensive inland waterway network. Second, Indian railways experienced high levels of TFP growth after they were constructed. (Bogart and Chaudhary, 22). India’s transportation system was outdated and was not allowing India to trade and transport goods at a pace that represented their growing economy. Both of these photographs show how India is determined to improve their infrastructure, even if it means spending more money to create tunnels.

The first photograph I picked for the Mexico section is a picture of a railroad bridge. The bridge depicts the same thing in Mexico that it does in India. Mexico also had a growing economy and needed a railroad system to connect their economic systems. The second Mexico photograph that I am using is a picture of Mexican soldiers pointing their guns at railroad workers. In the background the railroad bridge has been destroyed and smoke fills the background of the entire photo.

The new railroad system allowed Mexicans to travel long distances and transport goods to other cities, “The new rail networks made it easier for poor Mexicans to travel long distances from home in search of work. Thus, the railways inadvertently began to draw thousands of Mexican workers steadily northward” (Morales and Schmal). The railroads allowed Mexican workers to move northward to find work and, thus, created a northern migration that would boost the economies of northern Mexico. The second photograph is important because it shows how rebels directed their attacks toward the railroads. They believed by destroying the railroads they would be able to destroy Zapata and overthrow this rule by infiltrating Mexico’s infrastructure.

These four photographs are all related as they show how both India and Mexico believed that a better railroad infrastructure would lead to economic and social growth.

Work Cited:

Bogart, Dan, and Latika Chaudhary. “Railways in Colonial India: An Economic Achievement?” Chapter 9 (May 2012): n. pag. Web. <>.

Morales, Donna, and John Schmal. “The Hispanic Experience – The Roads We Took to America.” The Hispanic Experience – The Roads We Took to America. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2016. <>.

Photographs Courtesy of the DeGolyer Library

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”697″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”826″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”834″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”734″ img_link_large=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Kelly Reed
Colonialism: Photography as a Means of Control” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left” google_fonts=”font_family:Montserrat%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]“Photography can, it seems, be credited with the power to summon such shames from its depths, to give visible shape to the murky and half-apprehended notions of one’s own place in the world. This, too, is a form or persuasion, all the subtler for being uncannily familiar and all the more powerful for being objectively true” (Chaudhaury, 3). These words express the effect that photography had on the colonized peoples of India and Mexico. Not only could the European colonizers use photos to view and categorize different groups of indigenous peoples more easily, but also the colonized could see themselves in comparison to others and better understand their physical differences. Awareness gave way to acceptance. Capitalizing on societal recognition of racial and class differences, the British and Spanish colonizers more effectively subordinated and controlled the indigenous peoples in India and Mexico.

Looking at India, William Johnson was the photographer for all three images, shot between 1855-1862. The first photograph depicts a group of Nagar Brahmin men. The clothing the men wear in the photo, with long tunics, pants, elaborate sashes and shawls, as well as shoes, indicates a wealthy, upper class group. Notably the men are depicted outside a more sophisticated building and are seated or standing on a rug. One man sits on an ornate, obviously European chair. The physical features of these Brahmin men are similar, with shaved heads, moustaches, and predominately lighter skin. Recalling a line from the movie Water, Narayan’s mother asks optimistically, “Is she fair-skinned?” indicating the British influence on the desirability of light skin.

The second photo called “The Bhundarees” shows three palm wine vendors resting on the side of the street. Their clothing is noticeably minimal; they wear only small dhotis, with one man wearing a sleeveless shirt. They have no shoes and carry jugs and tools for selling toddy to people on the streets, indicating that these men are lower class workers. The paint on the railing is peeling. As for physical distinctions, the men are clean-shaven, thin, and very dark-skinned. Similarly, the next group of men in the photo titled “Coolies” is dark-skinned and wearing small dhotis (one man has a sleeveless shirt). Their headdresses are different from the palm wine vendors’ hats, possibly due to regional differences in clothing. The men are resting near a crumbling wall. They have dirty bare feet, look facially tired and worn, and have baskets with them. One man even sits on the ground inside his basket. Coolies are unskilled laborers, and this image reinforces their lower class status in India.

Before the British colonized India, the caste system was more fluid, according to author Nicholas B. Dirks (Dirks, 13). With the use of photography to classify and categorize indigenous peoples, a stronger, more fixed order for society emerged. Looking more closely at the photos and understanding that the people had to pose for these images, one might ask if the photographers orchestrated these groupings and locations to prove a point or emphasize class distinctions. The hegemonic British, seeking to create a more structured society in India, “defined to their own satisfaction what they construed as Indian rules and customs, … [and] the Indians had to conform to these constructions” (Dirks, 10). Thus, photography could be seen as a colonialist agent of subjugation.

Turning to Mexico, the next three images come from the year 1897. The first photograph, titled “Our Party in Guanajuato,” displays a large group of men and women. Their clothing is noticeably European, with the women in puffy-sleeved long dresses and ornate hats. The older women wear darker colors, while the younger ones have lighter colored dresses. The men in the photo wear European suits with either neck or bow ties. A few of the people wear glasses, and some have walking sticks and gloves. The setting is a gazebo, which looks to be European, with elaborate columns and railings. Notably light-skinned as well as elegantly dressed, this group of people is wealthy and from the upper class in Mexico. To add effect, the photographer has allowed three other people into the photo for emphasis. One dark skinned man, possibly a guide of some sort (indicated by his white uniform type clothing), stands to the left of the image. In front of the large group, lying on the ground, are two young dark skinned men in rather worn light colored clothing, indicative of servants. The men wear simple sandals and straw hats and rest on the hard ground, in contrast to the wealthy group sitting on the steps of the beautiful gazebo. These three men obviously work for the larger group depicted here.

Photograph number two shows four water carriers in Guanajuato. Because there was no running water in homes at this time, men delivered water to homes. The darker skinned men in this picture are looking downward, possibly due to the heavy water jugs on their backs, carried using ropes as straps. They have simple walking sticks. Being a water carrier is probably hard on these men, indicating that they are lower class laborers. Their clothing also supports this assertion. The men wear straw hats, simple light colored, tattered clothing, and plain sandals with no socks. For emphasis of societal status, the photograph is set outside on the well-worn street. The final photo in this group, depicting a Mexican family at home, provides an interesting contrast to the first photo of wealthy Mexican people. The family stands outside their modest straw-roofed home in rural Mexico, wearing mostly tattered clothing. The clothing is very simple and probably homemade, with no buttons or visible means to hold the clothing together except with belts. The boys does not seem to be wearing pants and has bare feet. Their skin is dark; in fact, the man in the center looks like he might be of African descent. The mother, who appears to have indigenous facial features, holds a baby wrapped in a sling. The straw mat on which the little girl stands may possibly be a mattress from her home, so this family is lower working class.

Notes author Evelyn Green, “the meanings of skin color and rank are inextricably linked, even when explicit reference to race is absent” (Green, 7). Examining the six photos shown here, one can see the relationship of skin color to class; the elite have lighter coloring, while the laborers are darker skinned. Colonialism promoted the idea that “white” is the color of success; in essence, colonialism begat racism in India and Mexico. With skin color as a way to classify people and photography as useful means to implement categorization, the colonizers were able to effectively subjugate the indigenous peoples. The British and Spanish, therefore, successfully utilized the art of photography as a weapon of oppression.


Photograph URLS:


Works Cited:

Chaudhaury, Zahid R. Afterimage of Empire: Photography in Nineteenth-Century India. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 2012. 258 pp.

Dirks, Nicholas B. Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 2011. 386 pp.

Green, Evelyn. Shades of Significance: Why Skin Color Matters. Stanford: Stanford University Press. 2009. 299 pp.

Photos courtesy of DeGolyer Library[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”730″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”740″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”742″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”743″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”745″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”747″ img_link_large=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Mark Roe
Class and Racial Differences in Company Owner and Employees” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left” google_fonts=”font_family:Montserrat%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]In the late 1800’s to early 1900’s there was a large boom in the industrialization of transportation in both India and Mexico. The colonizing powers decided that the nations they had colonized needed to have transportation that was up to modern standards. The wealthy class or the government was the party that produced the funds and was in charge of the building of these railroads or mining companies.

In India, at the site of the Hardinge Bridge Construction, there is a large difference between the colonizers who own the company and the people that they employ to do the work. In the staff photo we can see all of the people who are in charge clearly are from a high class in society. The group is predominantly white with a few Indian people in the midst. In this group we can see the chief engineer of the project, Sir Robert Gailes. The photo of the workers who physically built the shows a very different group of people. These people are Indians who are wearing turbans and the home-spun cloth like Gandhi did and nothing else. We can see how their numbers vastly outweigh the numbers of the white people in charge because only one white person is in this photograph. Almost all of the workers in this photograph do not have shoes on which means they are very low class, most likely untouchables.

In the case of the mining and oil company in Mexico, we can see the difference of the people who were in charge and the workers. For the people in charge we can tell that all of them are white presumably from English or European descent. From research we know that they were college-educated men who were lawyers or engineers. The man on the far right, Dr. George E. Paddleford, was the vice president of the Mexican Petroleum Company that partly owned the mine. We see that all of these men are wearing nice clean clothes with bowties and coats that are all comfortably seated. This photo is in stark contrast with the workers who labored at the mince. First off they are all brown people most likely of Mexican or Indian descent. They do not have hats but instead use cotton sheets or clothes as cover from the sun. The worker carrying the large barrel and basket is only wearing sandals in the rocky terrain.

In Mexican railways it is not just the predominantly white community that is charge of building the railways but also the market that the railway was made for. On the day when the railway was most likely completed we see a crowd gathered to celebrate its creation. This crowd is solely consistent of white upper class people with very nice clothes and hats on. We can tell this is not just a staff photo because many families are here with children and the photo’s name says “crowd” which suggests that these are the future customers of this new railroad. But, again, this crowd is not at all like the crowd of people who build the railroad. In the next photo we not only see the workers but the conditions in which they live in. The workers live in large tents that can support many families. We see the men and women are mostly indigenous peoples who are dressed in cheap cotton clothes. Some of the women are carrying boxes or jugs showing the manual labor that they are tasked with. These types of people could never even use the railways. The price of a ticket that would take someone around 40 miles would cost a week’s salary of someone working on the railroad earning minimum wage.

Throughout all of these photos is the one consistent theme of the division on class between colonized and colonizer, company owner and laborer, customer and builder.
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”808″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”809″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”807″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”810″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”812″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”811″ img_link_large=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Eva Ruggiero-Ramirez
Religion and the Colonization of Mexico and India” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left” google_fonts=”font_family:Montserrat%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]Religion played an important role during the colonization processes of Mexico and India. In the Encomienda “Entrustment,” the Spanish crown intended for its settlers to protect, care for and Christianize Indians (NF lecture 2). The Portuguese introduced Catholicism in India in the late fifteenth century, but it wasn’t until British rule that christianity was openly preached over India. The Charter Act of 1813 renewed the charter for the British East India Company and continued the company’s rule as well as included a clause to allow missionaries to propagate English and preach religion (RBP lecture 3).

In the first two photographs we will analyze the influence of Catholicism over the natives of Mexico. Guadalupe taken by Hugo Brehme between 1906 and 1920 displays the majestic Basilica of our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, built after Juan Diego witnessed the apparition of the Virgin Mary (Famous Churches, web). We can appreciate the detailed stonework all around the structure, along with two tall towers on each side and cupola in the center. At the bottom of the photographs a great multitude of followers gathers, perhaps celebrating an important date for the Catholic community. An unknown photographer in the city of Guanajuato, Guanajuato, Mexico, took our second photograph, Guadalupe Church Guanajuato, between 1905 and 1909. We can observe the simplicity of a small town church while still preserving the Spanish architectural style. By the surrounding buildings we can deduct the church was located in an accessible part town, could very well be the central plaza. The unpaved streets and plain buildings by the church could be signs of a low-income community or we could infer it is an area under development.

We will now discuss our two images from India, both taken by William Johnson between 1855 and 1862. The legacy of Portuguese Catholicism is felt in Goa’s landscape with the existence of the beautiful Church and Convent of St. Monica. An uncomplicated design with simple, geometric forms and minimum embellishments compliments the landscape. The absence of adjacent buildings tells us it could be located in the countryside, and the size of the building could mean the presence of a large group of Catholics. Our final photograph represents the majority’s religion of the region, Hinduism. Waee, as titled by the artist, is believed to be mislabeled and the actual name of the temple is the Shree Naro Shankar located in Nashik, Maharashta. This magnificent structure was built by the riverbank across from a large city. The architectural design is very intricate with a system of small cupolas around the main tall tower.

From these images we can recognize the establishment of Catholicism as a central religion in Mexico; the Spanish required everyone arriving to the colony, slave or free, to be Catholic (Bristol, pg. 258). While in India the majority of the population remained either Hindu or Muslim, Christianity had a major impact in India’s culture and society especially in the life of women who converted in order to overcome social and caste restrictions (Freeman, web). The religious legacy of the colonizers forever changed Mexico and India.

Guadalupe Church Guanajuato,

Portuguese Church,


Works cited:
Bristol, Joan C. “Black Catholicism in Mexico.” Journal of Africana Religions 2.2 (2014): 255-63. Web.
Freeman, Cameron. “Christianity in British Colonial India and the Crystallization of Modern Hindu Religious Identities.” Web. 12 Jan. 2016. < british-colonial-india-crystallization-modern-hindu-religious-identities/>.
Tahir, Rogers “Famous Churches – The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico City.” World Churches, http://

Photographs courtesy of the DeGolyer library[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”701″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”712″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”726″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”750″ img_link_large=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Chayce Steelman
Social Classification in Colonized India and Mexico” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left” google_fonts=”font_family:Montserrat%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]Every society/culture has either used, or is still using, a system of social classification. For example, African Americans and women of the United States have not possessed the same rights throughout our history as ‘Caucasian’ males have. As you know, the reason for this is that our nation’s ‘elite’ (and majority) deemed these two social ‘classes’ as inferior because of the way that they were born. Photographs one, two, and three are ‘Indian photographs’ while four, five, and six are ‘Mexican photographs.’ From these six pictures that illustrate the life of Indian, and Mexican, citizens after the colonization by European empires, it is clear that the two countries embraced (or inherited) a social classification system that favored the ‘upper’ class while depriving the same opportunities from the ‘lower’ class.

In photograph one, there are five males who appear to be in good condition – clean, relaxed, and comfortable. Photograph two displays the opposite. These five men look to be in bad condition – dirty, mal nourished, and exhausted. The people shown in these two photographs can easily be classified into two separate ‘classes’ based on India’s Caste system. The 5 men in the first picture are Brahmins who are priests, teachers, and judges who often lived apart from the rest of society in temples (Dowling). The men in picture two are untouchables. Untouchables were “hired to do work that members of the caste system would not do” (Dowling). These two ‘classes’ were opposite to each other in relation to the Caste System – The Brahmins were the elite while untouchables were peasants. In photograph three, two young men are attending to a ‘superior’ figure in a luxurious setting. The man sitting can be identified as ‘upper’ class (specifically Kshatriya) because he is sitting, dressed in more extravagant clothing, holding a sword, and has shoes on his feet when the other two are barefooted.

It can easily be identified that one picture is not like the other two when glancing at photographs four, five, and six. Photograph four is black and white while photographs five and six seem to have a filter applied to them that gives it a brownish tint. It is no coincidence that the black and white picture captured an ‘elite’ (Diaz who was the Dictator) while the tinted photographs portray the lower class. Mexico’s classification system can be summarized based entirely off of this observation without mentioning the several other direct representations that are illustrated. In Mexican hierarchy, those who were viewed as more white (European) than others were endowed with higher social status while ‘dark’ (indigenous) people were granted less social prestige and mobility (Boundless). In Mexico’s culture, the five boys shown in photograph six could not become ‘upper’ class (like Diaz) no matter their desires, qualifications, or talents simply because of the oppression against people with dark skin.
Although the pictures illustrate differences of how the two countries classified their respective people, they all share the same theme – ‘Upper’ class (caste) citizens lived more luxurious lives and were viewed as ‘superiors’ while the ‘lower’ class were neglected of social importance and influence.

Reference URL:

Brahmins of the Mahrattee Country:


A Mahratta Chief and his Attendants:

Gral Porfirio Diaz Pres. de Mexico:

Man and Woman:

People Wearing Hats and Sarapes by the Roadside:


Works Cited:

Boundless. “Race Relations in Mexico: The Color Hierarchy.” Boundless Sociology. Boundless, 21 Jul. 2015. Retrieved 12 Jan. 2016 from

Dowling, Mike. “The Caste System at”. Updated November 8, 2015 . Web. Retrieved 12 Jan. 2016. <>

Photographs courtesy of DeGolyer Library[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”720″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”723″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”716″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”725″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”728″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”731″ img_link_large=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Veronica Virgin
The Evolution of Religion as Seen Through Architecture ” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left” google_fonts=”font_family:Montserrat%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]The demographics of today’s religious groups can be attributed to the religious policy taken by the countries colonizers.

Since the first arrival of Spanish colonizers the catholic religion was imposed upon natives and not always with mercy. The photo with the Church of Mitla is shown alongside the ruins of the Indian temple which used to exist there. The Indian temple was occupied in the 16th century by the Spanish who tore it down and used its bricks to construct a catholic church (Mitla Archaeological Ruins). Some of the broken ruins can be seen below the building, giving the church a mightier position above the native temple. The nonchalant and sloppy destruction of a previously sacred place sheds light on what the Spanish thought about Indian beliefs: trivial and barbaric. However its small size, bare decoration, and isolation shows the lack of catholic influence in the late 1500’s.

With only Catholic Spanish colonizers the Catholic religion took hold on the masses. The second photo is the church of Guadalupe (1906). Not only is this church grand in size compared to Mitla, but also the attention to ornamentation eludes to the amount of time, money, and social importance of this building. The idea of a strengthened religious importance is shown by the massive crowd of worshipers who come to visit in the photo. After four hundred years of religious conquest the difference in these two photos shows the progressive influence and power the Catholic Church on the Mexican people. So much so that in 2010 Catholics comprise the religious majority 85 % in Mexico (Toro).

Britain was aware of the complex relationship between religions in India. The blending of two major religious can be see through architecture. The Ruined Temple of Ambernath is a traditional Hindu shrine of which the decorated peak type formation should be taken note of. The Mahomedan Tombs depicts a traditional Muslim burial site, note here the domes and the oval windows which have stalactite architecture. “Stalactites…is characteristic of Islamic architecture and decoration” (Stalactite Work).  Angria Colaba has the typical Hindu triangular peak but it is adorned with oval window designs and the third most layer from top has stalactite architecture, both of which are similar to the Mahomedan photo. It also has a dome next to it with typical Muslim peak decoration in the center.  This small Hindu temple which has Islamic influence is ignored by the common passersby signifying their acceptance and the commonality of such peaceful religious fusion.

The last years of colonization broke this religious peace with the Partition. This final religious intrusion by the colonizers still affects the religious population of Inida 79% Hindu (Hindu Population in India) and Pakistan 96.4% Islam (Pakistan Demographics Profile 2014), today. So drastic was the split that neither religion will ever have the same influence on each other again in India.

These two photographic examples have shown that the strength of religious groups in today’s global world can be attributed to decisions of religious interference made by colonizers in those respective countries.


Photo URL’s:


View_of_Mitla_Church_built_in_the_Ruins (1)




Ruined_Temple_of_Ambernath_near_Callian (1)




Angria’s Colaba – Hindu Temple in the Village:



Works Cited


“Stalactite Work | Architecture.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica. Web. 13 Jan. 2016. <>.


“Mitla Archaeological Ruins!” Mitla Archaeological Ruins. San Pablo Villa De Mitla, Oaxaca, Mexico Travel And Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews. Web. 13 Jan. 2016. <>.


“Hindu Population in India.” – Current Hindu Population in 2015. Web. 13 Jan. 2016. <>.


“Pakistan Demographics Profile 2014.” Pakistan Demographics Profile 2014. Web. 13 Jan. 2016. <>.


Toro, By Ross. “The World’s Catholic Population (Infographic).” LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 2013. Web. 13 Jan. 2016. <>.




Photographs courtesy of De Golyer Library[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”840″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”837″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”841″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”839″ img_link_large=”yes”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”836″ img_link_large=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Maria Virzi Salerno
Labor System and Economic Inequality” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left” google_fonts=”font_family:Montserrat%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]Colonialism played a significant function in the propagation of inequality in Mexico and India. In their attempt to explore the continent for personal gains, the European enforced labor systems that created two distinct groups of people in the colonies. Unfortunately, the larger portion consisted of the poor laborers who sacrificed their energy to work in the European mines and infrastructural development. Accordingly, the two significant themes reflected in the pictures focus on labor and economic status.

The photos illustrate Mexicans and Indians working for the colonial government. In the first picture, the Mexicans are in transit to the mines where the colonialist used them to mine silver for the increasing market demand in Europe. The second picture displays Indian workers in a railway construction. Notably, railway transport was an important mode of transportation during the colonial period, as it would facilitate the transportation of raw materials from the interior to the coast where cargo ships transferred the load to Europe. In both pictures, it is evident that the European took advantage of the colonies to use their energy as a source of cheap labor (Page and Penny 326). Indeed, the natives had no option other than to provide their labor as the colonial labor system used the forced labor approach. Although the labor system varied across the colonies, forced labor was a common characteristic among all the European powers. Notably, the forced labor had devastating results on families as it led to the disruption of the family setup and increased the cases of women-headed households. Another important aspect of the colonial labor system is the working environment of the workers (Page and Penny 327). As demonstrated in the pictures, the employees are risking their lives in the way they are transported or the safety measure in the railway construction. On the first picture, the men in transits are seated with their legs hanging on the side of the motor. On the second photo, the Indians at work in the railway construction are exposed to the danger of falling into the deep trench since they do not have safety gears.

Colonization was a significant factor that propagated economic inequality in the colonies. In most countries, the elite class consisted of leaders and merchants. The rest of the community suffered from the unequal treatment as most people were subjected to forced labor subjecting them to adverse poverty (Dutt and Thakur 15). The third photo demonstrates a poverty-stricken family in Mexico. Evidently, most families succumbed to the colonial poverty and never gained an opportunity to liberate themselves from the same. The fourth picture is of an elite class family from India that is characterized by an abundance of material things (Dutt and Thakur 501). The two pictures expand the impact of the colonial governments in exacerbating economic inequalities by developing two classes of the haves and the have-nots.

The impacts of colonialism in India and Mexico are similar. Notably, the most pronounce impact is the adoption of oppressive labor laws and a system that forced the natives to work for the European. Although this created a class of skilled personnel, it had a negative impact on the family and the health of the workers. Secondly, the colonial system propagated economic inequality by creating two classes of people within the same community. Indeed, these classifications have persisted to the modern day where a larger portion of the population live in adverse poverty while a small percentage live in extreme wealth.


Works cited:

Dutt, Ashok K, and Baleshwar Thakur. City, Society, and Planning. New Delhi: Concept Pub. Co., 2007. Print.

Page, Melvin E., and Penny M. Sonnenburg, eds. Colonialism: an international, social, cultural, and political encyclopedia. AM. Vol. 1. Vol. 1. ABC-CLIO, 2003.

Photographs courtesy of DeGolyer Library.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”869″ img_link_large=””][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”863″ img_link_large=””][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”864″ img_link_large=””][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” style=”vc_box_outline” alignment=”center” image=”865″ img_link_large=””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Lauren Winterhalder
Socioeconomic Disparity And Views of Women in Colonial India and Mexico” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left” google_fonts=”font_family:Montserrat%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]India and Mexico have both had a long road in terms of colonialism and establishing their own country, however, the women in these countries have had an even harder and longer road. In both countries, women faced oppression, sexualization, and tragedy due to the views and laws faced against them. Class systems also played a role in the establishment of a woman’s role. The disparity between class systems and the view of women in both India and Mexico during the time of colonialism is depicted in these photographs.

In the photograph, “Fisherwomen of Bombay,” five women are depicted who work to sustain their lives and support their household. This is a far cry from the orientalism that Indian women faced during colonialism. Orientalism is how Europeans or others views and depicted Indians, which was usually in an exotic, backward, and uncivilized way. Indian women were depicted as hyper-sexualized and exotic, which created an obsession in European men. However, this picture squanders orientalism and depicts Indian women in a different light. The fisherwomen of Bombay are lower class and workers. It was common during the time for women to not work, only men, so for these women to be working they must really need to help support their families. A similar class of women is depicted in the photograph, “Mexican Market Woman.” This woman has very dark skin and is selling handmade goods at the market in order to make a living. This establishes her of a lower class in Mexico, and therefore, must be far from Spanish blood. There was a caste system in Mexico based on how much Spanish blood you had and “the sistema de castas’ most extreme, there were more than forty classifications, with español being the most desirable and negro being the least desirable for sociopolitical purposes”( Her caste dictates her socioeconomic status, which is why she has to work on the street without shoes on.

Not all women in India and Mexico during colonization were forced to work and support their household, because they were in a higher social class. In the picture, “Brahmin Women of the Konkan,” women of wealth are depicted. “The Brahmin caste is considered at the top of the Indian hierarchical social and Hindu religious system (Sulakshana)”. These women are of a high social class, which is depicted in their clothing and the large house in the background. Brahmin’s usually obtained wealth and status in colonial India, and that is because of their status in the Hindu religion. The same class system is depicted in the photograph, “Mexican Women Wearing Shawls.” These women are in Mexico and are of higher social class. You can tell by their clothes and by their light skin. The caste system in Mexico during colonialism was based off of how close you were to Spanish blood and far away from Negro blood you were. These women are not depicted working and can be in the caste of either creole or castizo based on their skin color.

These four photographs shed light on the socioeconomic disparity and views on women during colonialism. Social and economic status was reflected in the clothes that the women wore and their lifestyle. Women of higher economic and social status did not have to work, while lower class women had to work in order to support their household. Women were also subjected to oppression and hyper-sexualization. However, these photos show the orientalist and racist view that Europeans had of women.



Mahajan, Sulakshana. ” .” Women and Environment: The Women of Konkan. N.p., 2001. Web. 13 Jan. 2016.

Photos courtesy of DeGolyer Library

Sistema De Castas (1500s-ca. 1829) | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed.” Sistema De Castas (1500s-ca. 1829) | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Jan. 2016.\


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