UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Reclaiming the gaze : examining contemporary Nuxalk perspectives on Harlan I. Smith's fieldwork photographs, 1920-1924 Solomonian, Adam


Archival photographs of native peoples are tricky objects. They complicate the current rhetoric of repatriation and collaboration that tends to dominate present reassertions of control by First Nations communities over objects held (or once held) by non-native institutions. Framing the reclamation of cultural objects by First Nations peoples from non-native museums as acts of repatriation does not address instances in which little or no dialogue or collaboration exists - the instances when native peoples enter (or break into) the museum or archive through other means. The perspectives of contemporary Nuxalkmc on and employments of Harlan Smith’s photographs discussed here emerge from larger processes of self-determination and identity-making. I argue that this represents an important way in which contemporary Nuxalkmc assert a form of possession of these photographs, reclaiming and repurposing them in ways that have produced a space for these images outside of the museum archive, on their own terms.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International