Early Photography of the Silk Road: A Discussion with Visiting Scholar Maeve Nolan


Part of the Sigur Center’s Visiting Scholar Roundtable Series

Wednesday, March 28, 2018
12:00 PM – 1:30 PM
Chung-wen Shih Conference Room
The Elliott School of International Affairs
1957 E Street, NW, Suite 503
Washington, DC 20052

Early Photography of the Silk Road Audio (1)

Early Photography of the Silk Road Audio (2)

Early Photography of the Silk Road Audio (3)

Early photography of the Silk Road is a sub-genre of early photography. These photographs have contributed significantly to the Western world’s vision of the Silk Road and Asia but they have yet to be studied in depth. This talk explains what early Silk Road photography looks like, its origins, who produced it and why.

This event is on the record and open to the media.

About the speaker:

Maeve Nolan is a second year PhD Art History and Archeology student at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She is currently a visiting scholar with George Washington University’s Sigur Center whilst she conducts her research at the National Geographic Society. The title of her PhD is:

“Early Silk Road photography: A case study of how and why Dr. Maynard Owen Williams, Litt. D. (1888-1963) photographed the Silk Road during the Citroen-Haardt Trans-Asiatic Expedition (1931-1932)”

Her PhD examines early photography of the Silk Road through a close analysis of the work of one of the last of the early Silk Road photographers, Maynard Owen Williams (1888-1963). She has chosen Williams’ photographs of the Citroen-Haardt Trans-Asiatic Expedition (1931-1932), which re-traced the route of Marco Polo, as a case study. These photographs present some of the most technically proficient, romantic, painterly and widely distributed examples of early Silk Road photography and appeared alongside articles Williams wrote for the influential American publication, the National Geographic Magazine.

Through her research, she intends to shed light on this overlooked photographic genre and help to deepen understanding of its impact on the Western world’s relationship with and understanding of Asia and the Silk Road.

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