The Power of the Image : Photographs in the University of the Philippines Baguio Cordillera Archives


Photographs played a major role, sometimes more than the written text, in American colonial efforts in the Philippines at the turn and well into the early years of the 20th century. Dean C. Worcester, an American zoologist, who was later appointed Secretary of the Interior of the 2nd Philippine Commission, collected over 16,000 still photographs on the Philippines. 4,700 of these were of ethnographic subjects. His interest in documenting the Philippine indigenous peoples did not only consist of visiting the places where the “tribes” or “savages” lived but also taking photographs of these Philippine peoples. Anthropologists who came after also used the power of the image in studying and making the indigenous peoples of Northern Luzon known to the world. Images of the landscape, material culture, peoples, rites and ceremonies have been the favorite subjects of the foreign eyes. This paper presents the importance of photographs in studying Cordillera history and anthropology. It briefly discusses the role photographs have played in the history of the Cordillera Region in the early part of the 20th century as well as the different American anthropologists who took images on the Cordillera Region and its peoples. It will then talk about the different photograph collections of the Cordillera Northern Luzon Archives. It will also examine the problems encountered in preserving and making the photographs accessible. Finally, preservation strategies by the University of the Philippines Cordillera/Northern Luzon Historical Archives are presented in efforts to prolong the life of these important primary sources.

Author Information
Cristina B. Villanueva, University of the Philippines Baguio, Philippines

Paper Information
Conference: LibrAsia2015
Stream: Librarianship - Archives

This paper is part of the LibrAsia2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon