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Reading the writing-machine: inscription, loss and the ethnographic imagination of A.C. Haddon

Kilroy, Peter James (2011) Reading the writing-machine: inscription, loss and the ethnographic imagination of A.C. Haddon. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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The fin-de-siecle incarnation of a specifically ethno-graphic anthropology is arguably marked out by one trait more than any others: its burning epistemological, aesthetic and ethical impulse to inscribe - to write, to draw, to photograph, to phonograph, to film - to deploy, in other words, an array of -graphic technologies to represent its 'ethnic' object. Such technologies overlap and interweave in complex ways, rise and fall in relative popularity and produce archival traces that call for multiple readings and rewritings. Focusing on a case study of the intermedial writings of zoologist-turned-anthropologist, Alfred Cort Haddon (1855-1940), this thesis is an attempt to thrust deep within the roots of such an impulse. It traces these roots to a pivotal historical and philosophical moment (the late nineteenth century) within which the nascent discipline of anthropology, armed with an array of such' -graphic' technologies, conjured forth a spectral object: at once vanishing and vanished, disappearing and disappeared. Death was both to-come and already there, and this spoke to a desire for an Indigenous plenitude that was both threatened and lost. However, in the emerging play between these two plenitudes, both were replaced with a (technologically mediated) spectre. Subject to the brute force of an all- powerful 'external' world-system (capitalist, colonialist and Christian), but without the means of even documenting the history of its own destruction, much less challenge it, such populations were posed as being hopelessly cast adrift: forever dead and dying, and in need, therefore, of representational 'salvation'. How, then, do these two sets of processes (inscription and loss) interact with one another, and what is their role within the vast archival writing 'machines' of colonialism? Exploring the interstitial space between medium specificity (photography- cinematography-phonography) and intermediality, this thesis is an attempt to resonate such questions, to set them in motion, to make them sound.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.589007
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2016 14:29
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2016 14:29
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/11317

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