In 1914-1915, Cambridge anthropologist John Layard worked in Malakula, New Hebrides (Vanuatu). This was one of the earliest periods of solitary, intensive fieldwork within the developing discipline of British social anthropology. Layard worked enthusiastically with his local assistants to document and understand the customary lives of the people, taking copious notes and over 450 photographs. His collection of objects and glass plate negatives are housed in the University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. This book contains over 300 of these evocative images, most previously unpublished, united for the first time with Layard’s field notes and captions. They provide an extraordinary record of the elaborate ritual and culture of Small Islanders and reveal photography’s role as an evidential and subjective medium vital to the practice of social anthropology.
Layard’s photographs have played a crucial role in forming ideas about culture and society, both in Vanuatu and within anthropology. His writings and images have recently been used by ni-Vanuatu as records of traditional life and to encourage cultural revitalization. Moving Images fully explores the resonance of Layard’s images in the intellectual history of anthropology and illuminates the social history of the discipline as a cross-cultural enterprise that connects Western scholarship to indigenous interests in the encounter of fieldwork.
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