History and Modern Media
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In History and Modern Media, John Mraz largely focuses on Mexican photography and his innovative methodology that examines historical photographs by employing the concepts of genre and function. He developed this method in extensive work on photojournalism; it is tested here through examining two genres: Indianist imagery as an expression of imperial, neo-colonizing, and decolonizing photography, and progressive photography as embodied in worker and laborist imagery, as well as feminist and decolonizing visuality.

The book interweaves an autobiographical narrative with concrete research. Mraz describes the resistance he encountered in US academia to this new way of showing and describing the past in films and photographs, as well as some illuminating experiences as a visiting professor at several US universities. More importantly, he reflects on what it has meant to move to Mexico and become a Mexican. Mexico is home to a thriving school of photohistorians perhaps unequaled in the world. Some were trained in art history, and a few continue to pursue that discipline. However, the great majority work from the discipline known as "photohistory" which focuses on vernacular photographs made outside of artistic intentions.

A central premise of the book is that knowing the cultures of the past and of the other is crucial in societies dominated by short-term and parochial thinking, and that today's hyper-audiovisuality requires historians to use modern media to offer their knowledge as alternatives to the "perpetual present" in which we live.
INTRODUCTION: Reminiscences on the Voyage from a Visual Periphery Towards a Disciplinary Center
  1. Doing History with Light and Sound: From Compilation Films to Interview-Based Documentaries
  1. Seeing Photographs Historically: A Mexican View
  1. Historical Photographs: Genres, Functions, Methods, and Power
  1. Indianist Imagery: Imperial, Neocolonializing, and Decolonizing Photography
  1. Photography from the Left: Worker, Laborist, Feminist, and Decolonizing Imagery
EPILOGUE: “What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been”



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Date de parution 15 avril 2021
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780826501462
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

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History and Modern Media
History and Modern Media
A Personal Journey
John Mraz
Copyright 2021 Vanderbilt University Press
All rights reserved
First printing 2021
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Mraz, John, author.
Title: History and modern media : a personal journey / John Mraz.
Description: Nashville : Vanderbilt University Press, [2021] | Includes bibliographical references.
Identifiers: LCCN 2020051355 (print) | LCCN 2020051356 (ebook) | ISBN 9780826501455 (hardcover) | ISBN 9780826501448 (paperback) | ISBN 9780826501462 (epub) | ISBN 9780826501479 (pdf)
Subjects: LCSH: Photography in historiography. | Historical films. | Pictures as information resources—Mexico. | History—Methodology.
Classification: LCC D16.155 .M73 2021 (print) | LCC D16.155 (ebook) | DDC 907.2—dc 23
LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2020051355
LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2020051356
To my mentors from yesterday: Jesús Chavarría, Paul Vanderwood, Janey Place, and Mike Weaver.
And my hopes for tomorrow: Nicolás Ortiz Mraz and Maiala Freyria Meza
INTRODUCTION. Reminiscences on the Voyage from an Audiovisual Periphery toward a Disciplinary Center
1. Doing History with Light and Sound: From Compilation Films to Interview-Based Documentaries
2. Seeing Photographs Historically: A View from Mexico
3. Historical Photographs: Genres, Functions, Methods, and Power
4. Indianist Imagery: Imperial, Neocolonizing, and Decolonizing Photography
5. A View from the Left: Worker, Laborist, Decolonizing, and Feminist Imagery
EPILOGUE. “What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been”
This book has been fifty years in the making, and my debts are many. I am grateful, first of all, to faculty members who believed in me enough to help me get over the first hurdle at two universities of California, UC Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz, including Jesús Chavarría, Ed Loomis, Carroll Pursell, David Sweet, Julianne Burton, Janey Place, and Jim Borchert. The collective projects in which I collaborated with fellow students were crucial in defining what I have become, and I hope that Chuck Churchill, Rick Chiles, Ray Tracy, Joyce Baker, Perry Kaufman, Roger Nelson, and Robert Chacanaca enjoyed it as much as I did. In Mexico, the visionary administrators who hired me or invited me carry out projects have been fundamental in allowing me to express myself and develop this innovative way of doing history, among them, Enrique Suárez Gaona, Alfonso Vélez Pliego, Eleazar López Zamora, Pati Mendoza, Luis Ignacio Sainz, and Tere Márquez.
The generosity of and interaction with my colleagues in Mexican photohistory have been pivotal in developing this new discipline. I am particularly grateful to Miguel Ángel Berumen, Bernardo “Tigre” García Díaz, Rebeca Monroy, Rosa Casanova, Alberto del Castillo, Daniel Escorza, Pati Massé, Ariel Arnal, Mayra Mendoza, Paulina Michel, Ángel Miquel, Poncho Morales, Ernesto Peñaloza, Jaime Vélez Storey, Samuel Villela, Carlos Córdoba, Fernando Aguayo, José Antonio Rodríguez, Arturo Ávila, Emma Cecilia García, Lilia Martínez, Claudia Canales, “Jimmy” Montañez Pérez, and the “team” of Abraham Nahón and Judith Romero. I have also benefitted from interaction with Latin American colleagues Ana María Mauad of Brazil, Magdalena Broquetas of Uruguay, Andrés Garay of Peru, and Cora Gamarnick of Argentina, as well as Catalan colleagues José María Caparrós-Lera, Magí Crusells, and Rafael de España.
Juan Carlos Valdez, Director of the Fototeca Nacional-INAH was particularly helpful in providing images during the COVID-19 lockdown in Mexico and has been a constant interlocutor.
I thank Rubén Gallo for inviting me to Princeton University’s Program in Latin American Studies, where the libraries aided me in this study, and interaction with Marni Sandweiss was important. I am also grateful to the Harry Ransom Center for granting me a David Douglas Duncan Endowment for Photojournalism/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Research Fellowship (Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, 2013).
I am indebted to the many institutions and individual photographers who have made this work possible by providing their images.
Conversations with Fernando Osorio have been useful in developing the methodology of analyzing genres and functions, and the first place I experimented with this method was at the magnificent Centro de Fotografía de Montevideo, at the invitation of its director, Daniel Sosa.
A special thanks to Sam Abrams, who keeps insisting that I read great fiction such as the powerfully anticolonialist Heart of Darkness .
Working in the Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades “Alfonso Vélez Pliego” of the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla under directors such as Alfonso, Roberto Vélez Pliego, Abraham Grajales, and Francisco Vélez Pliego has provided me with intellectual sustenance and the freedom to explore my chosen field of study.
I thank Zachery Gresham and Ignacio Sánchez Pardo for their enthusiastic response to my work, which has been important in completing this book under the difficult conditions in which we find ourselves.
As always, Eli Bartra has been there to criticize my facile interpretations, to pick me up when I fall down, and to bring love into my life.
Reminiscences on the Voyage from an Audiovisual Periphery toward a Disciplinary Center
Once you had locked into language, all you could do was shuffle the greasy pack of a few thousand words that millions of people had used before. There might be moments of freshness, not because the life of the world has been successfully translated but because a new life has been made out of this thought stuff. But before the thoughts got mixed up with words, it wasn’t as if the dazzle of the world hadn’t been exploding in the sky of his attention.
Edward St. Aubyn *
It seemed so obvious. Even back in 1970 it began to be as evident as it is today: we live in a hyper-audiovisual world whose webs of significance are increasingly spun by modern (technical) media: photography, cinema, television, and digital imagery and sounds. Although this metamorphosis began in the mid-nineteenth century, it is something historians have in general given little serious attention. Nonetheless, it would be difficult to overstate the importance of these media, which have completely transformed the exchange of information and our entire audiovisual environment; philosopher Vilém Flusser asserted that the invention of technical images may be as great a revolution as that of lineal writing, around 32,000 BC. 1
The vast majority of people now learn about the “past” from technical images and sounds—including academics, beyond their immediate areas of specialization—whether in films, on television, in picture books and illustrated magazines, or through some other form of modern visual culture. 2 My focus in this book is on “modern” media, rather those technologies that I would describe as “postmodern”: ICT (information and communication technologies) including the Internet and the forms of social communication it has spawned, among them Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Although I utilize the Internet as an indispensable research tool, my work has largely been confined to photography and cinema.
Despite the extraordinary transformation wrought by technical images and sounds, a mutual antipathy has almost always existed—and continues to reign—between the world of professional historians and those who produce popular audiovisual history. Historians have shown a reticence to rigorously employ photographs and films, though this seems to be less true in Mexico and Brazil than among historians from the United States and the United Kingdom. This resistance is curious: as photohistorian Liliana Gómez-Popescu argued, “Images have always provided important insights into history and were accepted as equal to other written source materials. This is certainly true for those historians who work on antiquity or the early modern period, and the medievalists. Yet, with the chemical-technological invention of photography in the 1830s this relationship seems to have experienced serious frictions.” 3
When compared with other fields of study, historians’ resistance to modern media is particularly pronounced. Two of the most important scholars of visual culture and photography have provided testimony to the conspicuous absence of image study in history departments. In an overview that examines the development of visually oriented programs, James Elkins states that a “bewildering number of departments offer visual studies courses,” and cites ten such areas, among which we find the “usual suspects” such as art history and comparative literature, but no history departments. 4 Ariel Azoulay finds the same situation as does Elkins, noting the inclusion of photographic studies beyond the art paradigm in six disciplines, including sociology and anthropology, but does not mention history. 5
At the same time, those who work in a wider context with images (cineastes, curators, publishers) have often had little use for professional historian

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