Toronto Metropolitan University
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Selective memory: an analysis of albums compiled at the return of the 1904 Younghusband mission into Tibet

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posted on 2021-06-08, 14:51 authored by Catherine Lachowskyj
Focusing on a collection of albums at the Archive of Modern Conflict related to the Younghusband Mission in Tibet (1903-1904), this thesis explores the the analysis of personal albums and their contribution to the history of the Mission. The first chapter, a literature survey, outlines the existing textual histories of the invasion, highlighting the absence of photographic analysis in the works, while also highlighting Tibet’s absence from contemporary criticisms of colonial photography. The second chapter is an overview of the visual conventions ascribed to Tibetans in British India’s photography prior to the Younghusband Mission, and the third chapter provides provenance information and detailed descriptions of the AMC’s albums. Finally, the fourth chapter discusses the objects, revealing their contribution to the perpetuation of Tibetan tropes, implicit visual documentation of British superiority, and the development of constructed narratives favouring the British colonizers. Each analysis acts as an example of how photographs should be used to articulate the colonial history of not only the Younghusband Mission, but of Tibet’s greater history with the West.





  • Master of Arts


  • Film and Photography Preservation and Collection Management

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • Thesis