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By James C. Faris

This thorough serious exam of photographic practices calls cognizance to the shortcoming of such a lot images to converse the lived stories of local humans or their historical past. Faris's survey, starting with the earliest images of Navajo in captivity on the Bosque Redondo and together with the main fresh smooth photo books and calendars, issues up the Western assumptions that experience regularly ruled photographic illustration of Navajo humans. Drawing on exhaustive archival study to unearth hardly ever released images in addition to unpublished pictures by way of recognized photographers, Faris files Navajo resistance to the West's view (and viewfinder) and protracted makes an attempt to beat or push aside such resistance. He demanding situations the photographic heritage of the Navajo humans as provided through photographers, historians, and anthropologists, and explores the social and felony stipulations that make such images attainable. Confronting many readers' nostalgic expectancies, Navajo and images will attract all people with an curiosity within the juxtaposition of cultures and photographic critique.

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Metamorphic relations are not visible to photography, nor clan relations, nor healing relations, nor migrations, nor emergences from netherworlds, nor Navajo histories with European Americans. Though some of the specific Western history of Navajo Page 19 is hidden to photographs by convention (for example, exploitation), so too are any and all Navajo claims to a history. What, then, are the rhetorics of the Western photographic projects, the figures that allow us to recognize the master portrayals that forecast, that indicate something of the optical unconscious?

This history does prioritize other historiesthe others, it argues, are wrong. These two histories, at least, are in some conflict over fundamentals. It is not my purpose in this volume to debate their relative merits, nor certainly their truths and falsities. But photography becomes very important to one of Page 23 these histories and is largely irrelevant to the other, and I will argue that this difference is vital to understanding some of the complexities of the photography of Navajo. To the history by which the West situates Navajo, photography is an important evidential apparatus and thus a tool of rationalist discourse.

I decided to confine the work largely to still photographs and not deal with the ciné materials, whose more complex and involved narrative issues are beyond the scope of this study. I do not mean to imply that still photographs are not narrative, but there are different orders involved (cf. Mulvey, 1989; Pinney, 1990a, 1990b). A systemic study of the ciné materials thus remains for another researcher. This project needs to be done, but there are over 1,000 videos alone in the Navajo Office of Broadcast Services and at least 50 documentary films on Navajo noted in Navajo Nation Libraryand these are conservative numbers.

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