Photographing Samarai : place, imagination and change

Quanchi, Max (2006) Photographing Samarai : place, imagination and change. In Hall, Carly & Hopkinson, Chanel (Eds.) Social Change in the 21st Century 2006, 27th October 2006, Carseldine, QUT.

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Photographs taken between the 1880s and 1930s record the dramatic topographical, social, economic and cultural transformations that took place on Samarai Island, also known briefly as Dinner Island after a visit by John Moresby in HMS Basilik in 1873. In 1885, when it was occupied by sixty Papuans and one trader, JW Lindt’s photographs of a trader’s beach-front store and its nearby environs, recorded Samarai’s original aesthetic appeal, economic role and physical appearance. In the 1930s, when it was a bustling administrative centre and port, an aerial photograph recorded the reshaping of the shoreline through groynes, wharves, jetties and land-fill, the removal of a central hillock, the levelling of ground for tennis courts and a cricket field and the imposition of a grid of residential and commercial streets over what was once a swamp. In 1942, Samarai’s infrastructure was destroyed during the Pacific war, and although revived briefly as an administrative centre in the 1950s, it soon became a nostalgic backwater. The extensive archive of published picturesque, industrial and documentary style photographs from the 1880s to the 1930s allows a historical geography and an environmental history to be constructed for Samarai, based solely on visual evidence. The rise and fall of Samarai is paralleled by photographer’s motivation to freeze, but also to depict the changing colonial world. Samarai is a site where geographical imagination, landscape photography and the picturing of colonial space merge

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ID Code: 6415
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Photography, Papua New Guinea, Social Change, History
ISBN: 1741071291
Divisions: Past > Research Centres > Centre for Social Change Research
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > QUT Carseldine - Humanities & Human Services
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 Max Quanchi
Deposited On: 19 Mar 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:23

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