The Disciplinary Lens: Photographic Vision, Cultural Remains, and Early Chinese Art History and Archaeology


Henry Luce Foundation/ ACLS Program in China Studies Postdoctoral Fellowships


Art History and Visual Culture


My project examines how early 20th-century Chinese and European archaeologists and art-historians used photography as a means to lay competitive claim to disciplinary narratives about China’s cultural remains. It counts among the first studies dedicated to investigating the role of photography in the formation of the discipline of Chinese art history, and will be the first comparative study of its kind. By tracing the creation, circulation and appropriation of these photographs by different scholars and publishers, I reconstruct the trajectories that lent some iconic status, while relegating others to oblivion. My project thus reads early art histories against the grain, and argues that competition for photographic vision was driven both by a desire for ownership of a disciplinary subject and narrative, and by competing regimes of spatial production. In so doing, this study connects photography’s role in the geographical imagination to its role in the formation of modern disciplinary subjects.