Walter G Whitman Essay

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Walter G. Whitman traveled to the East with his family between the years 1925 and 1926. His destination was China, though he spent some time visiting India. Among the places in India he saw were Jaipur and Bombay. He did not linger in India long and there is only a short section in Whitman’s memoir of his time in India. What he did bring back from India was a sizable collection of postcards.

Scenic Images of India

Post Card #1:

This is a standard postcard that shows a cityscape complete with sky and horizon. The photo is of India but was printed in Saxony, Germany, then redistributed in India for European tourists. Unlike the rest of the selected postcards, this image is copyrighted. Possibly, the lack of copyright on the other postcards implies that only this cityscape of seemly European styled buildings is considered artistic, or historical photography.

Post Card #2: Homestead

This is a homely image of Indian people living in a forested area. The people are lined and are posing for the photograph. Their home is made from the forest rather than long lasting materials. None of the people wear clothes, though you cannot truly see their bodies the ribs of the cattle behind them are
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Shorts in this time period would not be common style for either American or European men even in hot climates such as India. These four men would have appeared underprivileged, and possibly “backward.” In many instances images such as these were used to characterize Indian people. In a colonial sense this served to both demean Indian people and encourage the sense in Europeans that their “civilized” culture deserved to rule. “While physiognomy used physiognomy used physical features as a guide to individual character and class, …ethnic type categories take individual subjects and their clothing to represent traits if an entire
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