Part I Visual Cultures Project (resubmitted)

Lily and Parbhoo Children

Lily by Winfield Scott shows a young Mexican girl in a white rough-spun tunic posed on a balustrade and leaning against a pillar, with one leg crossed in front of her and the other hanging off the side. Her left hand rests on her hip, while her right hand loosely holds what appears to be a white rose. Around her are two wicker baskets, one empty, and one filled with stalks. Judging from her clothing and surroundings, she appears to be impoverished; she wears no jewelry, and the wicker baskets demonstrate she is likely working despite her age. The two most interesting aspects of the photograph are in Lily’s demeanor. It is unclear as to whether she is posing or was positioned, but in either case it is a visual oxymoron: she is wearing white, holding a white rose, and yet she still looks provocative. This juxtaposition brings to mind La Malinche, and confliction as the mother of the people—is she treacherous, or a victim? Lily stares directly at the photographer, with her head held up and tilted to the side. Her demeanor indicates pride, resilience, but not hope; she is stuck in this world on her own.

Parbhoo Children by William Johnson shows four wealthy children, positioned on and around a balustrade. The children are obviously wealthy from their clothing, which is adorned with jewelry. Three children are looking at the camera, but one is looking to her left at her peers, who are likely her siblings. The interesting aspects of this photograph are the demeanors of the children; each looks sad and servile, as though they are trapped. This is notable as they are children of wealth. The children are dark of skin, and the photograph is taken in the height of the British occupation of India, so this concept of being trapped weighs heavily and serves to remind the viewer of their situation: wealth means little when the subjects are oppressed by a colonial imperial power. They may be members of a high caste, but are still lower than any white person.


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