Social Structures of Mexico an India



ajaxhelperThis photograph was taken by J.G. Hatton between 1905 and 1920. It depicts a group of Mexican “rancheros” that have roped and taken down a bull. In this post card you can see two distinct groups of men, one group wearing dark and what appears to be more luxurious clothing and the other group wearing simple white clothes. The men in the white appear to be of a lower class than the men in the dark clothing. In the center/back of the post card you can see farmers who have stopped their work and are beginning to walk toward the action. You can tell this photograph is staged by the fact that most everyone in the post card is looking right at the camera instead of focusing on holding down the bull. The man on the right of the photograph seems to be the leader of the group as he is the only one who is not dressed in either black or white, he is wearing a grey suit. Because of his positioning in the photo, he appears to be much bigger than everyone else and clearly wants to be the main attraction of the photograph. Have these men been instructed by the man in the grey to hold down the bull for this picture? Is the man in the grey the owner of the property?



ajaxhelper1In the photograph “Part of Malabar Hill, Bombay”, William Henderson and William Johnson have chosen to photograph two young Indian children who are dressed in rags and appear very skinny and almost malnourished. The girl has a basket to the right of her, indicating that she is probably already being put to work carrying food or materials from one place to another. At the very top of the photograph you can see what appears to be a large home with a wall surrounding it, giving the impression that there is someone important or affluent who lives there while right outside their walls are two hardworking and malnourished Indian children. The photo takes place in Bombay, India where the British colonizers had their base of operation meaning that the house most likely belonged to a member of the British government or army. The main theme of this photograph is the immense disparity of wealth that existed in the mid 1800’s throughout India.

Industrial Progressions

Jajalpa Viaduct
Bengal-Nagpur Railway

Railway Workers

I. “Bengal-Nagpur Railway Construction, Photograph No. 09.” Townshend Photography (1890).

When first glancing at the Indian railway construction photograph, one would think the workers were of similar class or social standing. However, looking closer, the group is separated between native Indian workers and British engineers, or supervisors. In the photo, there lies many tools and supplies of railroad construction, intricate-looking tunnels, and the Indian workers wearing their native headgear—turbans. The only activity going on seems to be a break in the action from building, as they all look relaxed together. Based on the photograph, one can deduce that the Indians and British do not look tense around each other. Rather, they seem at ease and not in conflict like they had been thirty years prior. The Indians also look to be shedding their ‘effeminate’ title, looking strong and confident in the photo. Lastly, the project itself looks well organized and thought out, a compliment to both parties involved. Two questions remain after analyzing this important photograph. First, what is this railway’s general purpose for India? And, finally, who benefits the most from this innovation—the British or Indians?

Jajalpa Viaduct

Railway Viaduct

II. “Viaducto de Jajalpa.” Abel Briquet (1885-1895).
This still photograph of a locomotive crossing a ‘viaducto’ in Mexico contains no people, but it contains a deeper meaning nonetheless. In the photo, one clearly sees the steam locomotive and the intricate bride it crosses over. The only action perceived to take place here is the train carrying supplies somewhere important, either for the native Mexicans or for some other purpose. One notable observation that can be made from this photo comes from the idea that this furthers the Mexican industrial progress, making it comparable to India’s industrial revolution. Secondly, one can assume that the locomotive itself was a huge relief in its’ ability to quickly and largely deliver goods from one rural town to another throughout Mexico. The architecture of the ‘viaducto’ is also very impressive, prompting one to both compliment and question the creator of such a project at the time. To conclude, a viewer might ask who did build the bridge—natives or outside influences; as well as asking what the train is actually carrying and for whom.