Framing Scenery: A Potential History of Landscape Photography in Colonial Hokkaidō

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Through an analysis of photographs taken in Hokkaidō during the settlement process (kaitaku), Ayelet Zohar analyzes the impact of photographs as testimony to the annexation process, as well as documents of the colonial mechanism that embodied the presence of Japanese power. Using Karatani Kōjin’s discussion of “The Discovery of Landscape” in which he argued for the change of landscape to scenery, from a harmonious background to human presence, to an objectified scenery of control and exploitation of ‘natural resources,’ Zohar identifies this process as it is embodied through photographs. Following Ariella Azoulay’s discourse of photography and imperialism, Zohar identifies in these photographs the traces and signs that reveal Japanese power imposition: through the discourse of modernization, local inhabitants were eliminated for the sake of new schemes of modern life, using civil engineering, road and railroad constructions, mining and logging, and intensive agriculture. The documenting photographs tell the story of Hokkaidō’s annexation and its modernization, for the price of major ecological changes, and ethnic transformation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Visual Culture of Meiji Japan
Subtitle of host publicationNegotiating the Transition to Modernity
EditorsAyelet Zohar, Alison J. Miller
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781003112235
ISBN (Print)9780367612849, 9780367631246
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Publication series

NameRoutledge Research in Art History


  • Japanese Photography


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