Mónica M. Salas Landa at The University of Chicago

The University of Chicago Hyde Park Campus Haskell Hall, Room 315 5836 South Greenwood Avenue Chicago, IL 60637

Mónica M. Salas Landa Book Launch

The “Tajin Totonac” in and outside the Frame: Violence and Alterity in the Photographic Archive of Isabel T. Kelly
Dr. Mónica Salas Landa
Lafayette College

ABSTRACT: This talk examines the critical role ethnographic photographs played in actualizing the “indigenous other” as envisioned by midcentury anthropology and state-led developmentalism in Mexico. Drawing on a series of snapshots taken by US anthropologist Isabel T. Kelly, Mónica Salas Landa explores how the circulation and ongoing replication of visual records of the Totonac community in Tajín, located in the lowlands of northern Veracruz, have contributed to establishing an aesthetic order that affects what is and is not visible. A focus on snapshots—records of the ubiquitous and the banal across both intimate and public domains—allows Salas Landa to challenge the scientific overtones traditionally associated with ethnographic visual records. Instead, she highlights how the camera, in the hands of midcentury anthropologists, fabricated the reality it ostensibly merely recorded—a partial vision that, not unlike Kelly’s photographs, continues to be replicated today. This talk is based on Salas Landa’s forthcoming book, Visible Ruins: The Politics of Perception and the Legacies of Mexico’s Revolution.

Please join for a reception on Haskell’s mezzanine immediately following Dr. Salas Landa’s talk.