Sources: Archives and Collections
To look at the field photographic practice of three ethnographers with various field experiences for a period of about 60 years (1930s-1990s), we used a rather inclusive notion of archives and collections. Researching on their photographic productions was only rarely restricted to one institution that archived the whole collection. In the only case the whole collection was in the same archive, it was mixed with field photographs of other authors.
Traces of the photographic production of the selected three ethnographers can be found in institutional archives, museums and private funds. In the case of one ethnographer, we also (partially) rebuilt the field photography production through image reproductions in printing and publications.
Throughout the research we have encountered different rationalities expressed in forms of indexation, classification, and we have ended up by constituting various “collections” to aggregate fragments on their relation with photography and ethnography from several sources.
The ethnographers, their field photographic “collections” and the archives
Charles Estermann started taking photographs in Southern Angola in the 1940s, in B&W, changing to colour in the late 1960s. Estermann’s field production is currently lost, and thus his field photography is now a fragmented and dispersed “collection”, which we partially reconstructed from publications found in libraries and institutional archives (Portugal, Angola, EUA), such as:
- The Holy Spirit Congregation Archive, Portuguese Province (APPCMES). The transnational Holy Spirit congregation has its headquarters in France. The archive of the Portuguese province is located in Lisbon. It gathers a number of Estermann’s Southern Angola’s photographs, and its library is a resourceful place to find copies of missionary, colonial popular culture and scientific journals that have articles he authored, many of which with photographs.
- The Smithsonian Institution. Based in Washington DC, USA, it hosts the archive of the anthropologist Gordon Gibson (1915-2007). Gibson was the first African curator of the Smithsonian (1958), and had carried out fieldwork in Namibia (between 1952 and 1972). Working about the pastoralist Ovahimba, Gibson also travelled to Angola, meeting Estermann and becoming interested in his ethnographic work. Gibson translated into English and edited Estermann’s The Ethnography of Southwestern Angola. The Smithsonian gathers B&W prints of Estermann’s photos from The Ethnography of Southwestern Angola, with the exception of a few images from the third volume.
- Huíla’s Regional Museum. Estermann developed various partnerships with local intellectuals and institutions over the long period he lived in Southern Angola, particularly after he moved to Lubango city (circa 1937). The 1950s were a busy time for Estermann, he was writing his 3-volume monograph, along with keeping some of his missionary duties such as giving daily masses. His ethnographic expertise was often requested, as in his collaborations in a series of exhibitions displaying photographs, which happened in the city.
António Carreira took photographs over 5 ethnographic missions to Angola (1965-69). The missions were organised by the Overseas Ethnology Museum, with funding by the Junta de Investigações do Ultramar, the main state body supervising research since the 1950s. His field production became part of the ethnographic photography archive, where they were organised into the Angolan fund in a different order from their field production. Carreira used two cameras, and photographed the same subjects simultaneously in 35mm B&W film and in colour slide film.
- National Museum of Ethnology. The museum houses artifacts from several parts of the world, a substantial number of them having resulted from field missions organized by the museum. Carreira conducted 11 of such missions to at the time Portuguese territories: Cape Vert, Mozambique and Angola.
Ruy Duarte de Carvalho used photography during his fieldwork with Ovakuvale shepperd communities in the early 1990s. At the end of the decade, Carvalho selected around 50 photographs of more than 1200 he had previously shot – i.e. about 40 colour and B&W film strips – to publish in his book Vou Lá Visitar Pastores (1997), an ethnographic monograph that uses fictional devices. The selected photographs were submitted to a high contrast graphic effect. In the early 2000s, Carvalho also made other selections of his field photographs among the Ovakuvale, to display at a few exhibitions about his work, in Lisbon. Carvalho’s personal legacy is deposited at:
- Mário Soares Foundation – Casa Comum. The digital platform Casa Comum renders available the reproduction and description of documents guarded at the Mário Soares Foundation, and also documents from other archives, and partner institutions. It gives privileged access to catalogues and other description tools of funds and collections, allowing research of documents from different origins and the discovering of complementarities and connections between them. Ruy Duarte de Carvalho private fund, deposited at Mário Soares Foundation by his daughter and son, Eva and Luhuna de Carvalho, gathers different typologies of documents, that translate his complex personality, the voyages, different types of residences and contacts he established throughout his life.