AbstractsMedical & Health Science

The Orang Ulu and the museum: investigating traces of collaboration and agency in ethnographic photographs from the Sarawak Museum in Malaysia

by Christine Horn

Institution: Swinburne University of Technology
Department: Faculty of Health, Arts and Design. The Swinburne Institute for Social Research
Degree: PhD
Year: 2015
Keywords: Photography; Museums; South-east Asia; Sarawak
Record ID: 1056713
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.3/398212


The Sarawak Museum archive in Malaysia contains thousands of photographic prints and negatives from the region. From the early 1950s onwards, museum staff documented their work in Indigenous communities by taking photographs of people, traditional practices, material artifacts and environments. Such colonial photographs have been criticized for their role in establishing cultural stereotypes and supporting the political frameworks of domination that enabled their production. My thesis examines how their institutional origins affected the ways in which people in the source communities interpreted the photographs. The research involved returning 1500 photographs from the archive to Orang Ulu communities in northern Sarawak.