Communication Studies Associate Professor Miranda J. Brady and Emily Hiltz, a doctoral candidate in Communication, co-presented a paper titled “The Archaeology of an Image: Situating the Mediation and Remediation of Thomas Moore Keesick’s Residential School Photographs” at the Qualitatives Conference hosted at Brock University in St. Catharines from May 11-13. The theme for this year’s qualitative inquiry conference was visual methods and analysis.
In their paper, Brady and Hiltz focused on the “tuition” photographs of Thomas Moore Keesick, which were ostensibly taken before and after the 8-year old Saulteaux boy was admitted to the Regina Indian Industrial School in 1891. The iconic photographs were used by the Department of Indian Affairs to illustrate the success of Industrial Schools in the nineteenth century, but are now widely used in educational materials to signify the brutal and crass nature of Canada’s assimilation policies. Using a method inspired by “media archaeology” scholarship (eg. Bate, 2007; Parikka, 2012; Huhtamo & Parikka, eds, 2011) and Michel Foucault’s (1972) The Archaeology of Knowledge, the paper traces out the mobilization of the photographs over the years and provides critical insight on assumptions that continue about the image as evidence in historical and contemporary uses. It argues that the constructed images of Moore were not just brute expressions of a powerful colonizing influence, but insecure attempts by institutions desperately seeking legitimacy as part of a broader colonial apparatus.
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