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Moving Images: John Layard, Fieldwork, and Photography  on Malakula since 1914
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320pp. August 2010
Moving Images: John Layard, Fieldwork, and Photography on Malakula since 1914
Author: Geismar, Haidy; Herle, Anita;
Winner of the John Collier Jr., Award for Still Photography, Society for Visual Anthropology

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 This book contains over 300 of these evocative images, most previously unpublished, united for the first time with Layard’s field notes and captions.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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"Geismar presents us with a new vision of life as it once was and as it continues to be on Malakula and its surrounding islands. She crafts an understanding of Layard's fieldwork in a shifting cultural and political landscape, intertwined with the memories, imagination, and cultural aspirations of the ni-Vanuatu who now live on Atchin and Vao...This book (is) a benchmark contribution to contemporary historial and visual anthropology...(This book) will cerntainly have a long and storied life as it perpetuates the movement of these images throughout Vanuatu and beyond." Jordan Haug, University of California, San Diego, Anthropological Quarterly (Vol 85:2:2012)

"This is a splendid record of an early anthropologist's work in Melanesia...Summing Up: Highly recommended."  B.M. du Toit, Emeritus, University of Florida, CHOICE (Vol 48: No 11: July 2011)

"Geismar stresses, images of the past can make things happen in the present. This book is a superb testament to that." Margaret Jolly, The Australian National University, The Contemporary Pacific (23:I:2011)

"The book is a must for any scholar who is looking for methods to integrate archival photos into their research." Joanna Cohan Scherer, Museum Anthropology Review, (Vol 7:1-2:Spring-Fall 2013)

“This magificent book is a major contribution to the early history of British anthropology in Oceania and to visual anthropology at large. Geismar and Herle’s thorough documentation, broad coverage, and thoughtful analysis are further matched by the publisher’s high production values.” —Anthropological Quarterly (85:2, 2012)

Author: Geismar, Haidy; Herle, Anita;
Haidy Geismar is assistant professor of museum studies and anthropology at New York University. Anita Herle is deputy director of the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and curator for world anthropology.



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