56 Family Portraits From East Asia

I haven’t bothered to translate this page, but I’ve stumbled across a collection of 56 family portraits from East Asia that I wanted to share with you. The images give us a quick glimpse of all the different cultures and ethnicities that make up the far East, along with the lat/long of where these people are found. Check it out.

Ethnic Mongol
Ethnic Mongol

5 thoughts on “56 Family Portraits From East Asia

  1. As someone who focuses on the Uyghurs and their rights, autonomy, and identity in the modern Chinese nation-state, I also invite readers to see this kind of photo exhibition as part of the sustained and long-executed in modern Chinese nation-building to establish minorities as segmented, clearly identifiable peoples with a clear need for modernization and paternal guidance — which the Communist Party then ends up having.

    Of course, art, is art. And this is good photography, and I realize I’m being a curmudgeon and a jerk but lifting up my finger and throwing out there a contrarian objection.

    But based on my own research, and the period of time that I have lived in Xinjiang among ethnic minorities, I do believe it’s fair to say that these images of smiling, brightly garbed minorities that are always content with Party policies is an image or a trope that has become extremely widespread, has much currency in the popular imaginations of Han Chinese, and exasperates and frustrates actual members of these minorities. Uyghurs I met passionately wanted an outlet to say, “Look, we’re more than just shiny, dancing, singing, backwards minorities – and we’re not always happy with the lives we’ve been given.” But as things stand, that outlet doesn’t exist in the current political landscape of the PRC.

    For example, take a look at the Xinjiang pavilion constructed at the World Expo which is going on right now in Xinjiang. The colorful, giant fruit, the requisite picture of happy smiling waving minorities, and the picture with the face cutout so you can stick your face in and look like a Uyghur girl is something I am certain delights Han tourists and utterly frustrates or even enrages actual Uyghurs (one wonders if Uyghurs were actually consulted in the making of the pavilion, or if the Expo folks just went with the popular image of what Uyghurs are supposed to look like).

    So forgive my negative, grumpy interjection! As they say, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes a photo is just a photo. But myself having come from a background in anthropology I know anthropologists enjoy deconstructing things and ferreting out the power differentials that lie behind image-production. And so I hope this is something to think about. :)

  2. I’ve been sitting here, pressing refresh, and looking at the picture that appears at the top of your blog. I really like these pictures, so I wanted to know where I could find and browse through them, unless it’s a secret.

    Interesting blog, too.

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