Browse Primary Sources
Locate primary sources, including images, objects, media, and texts. Annotations by scholars contextualize sources.

Beautiful Fatima

Photography was critical to imperialism. The French army (and the British army in India) employed the camera’s lens to chronicle military exploits, first in Algeria during the 1850s, and later in Tunisia and Morocco. With advances in photographic technology, portrait studios were established in Europe and in European empires.

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Malinche Sculpture

A sculpted figure by an internationally-recognized Native American activist, writer and visual artist. The materials chosen by Jimmie Durham create an image of Malinche that seems emptied of life and perhaps not fully human. He stresses the darker underside of Malinche’s history. Her face is half human, half snakeskin. Scrawny legs, made of polyester batting, cannot support the figure.

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The Dream of Malinche

This painting, by a Mexican artist engaged with the international movement of Surrealism, represents a slumbering Malinche; her body serves as the ground supporting an unnamed Mexican community and church. This image evokes certain female earth deities known to the Aztecs, and it sustains the metaphor of the Mexican nation having been built upon the “ground” laid by Malinche’s actions.

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In Memoriam

In 1857, British rule in India was challenged when Indian sepoy troops of the British Indian Army began a year-long insurrection against the British. To the British, the most shocking aspect of the events in India was the massacre of white women and children by Indian men. There was extensive coverage in the press and illustrated journals, which stimulated calls for revenge.

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Scotland Forever

Painted by Elizabeth Butler, Scotland Forever (1881), depicts the charge of the Heavy Cavalry at the battle of Waterloo fought in 1815. The British victory at Waterloo ended the Napoleonic Wars, and ensured Britain’s position as the worlds most dominant imperial power.

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The Children of Edward Holden Cruttenden

This 18th-century painting of the children of Edward Cruttenden depicted with their ayah was painted in Britain by Joshua Reynolds. The earliest immigrants from India came to Britain as the servants of employees of the East India Company. Many Indian women came to Britain employed as ayahs or nannies.

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Photograph of Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese Activist

This photograph of a powerful woman, Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi, shows her use of national dress in a Southeast Asian political context. Aung San Suu Kyi was educated overseas and married to an Englishman. Yet she always wears Burmese national dress complete with a flower in her hair.

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Painting of Imelda Marcos, Philippine First Lady

Politicians are astute experts on the symbols and meaning of dress as part of self-representation. For women, the politics of dress are highly significant. This painting depicts a powerful woman, Former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos and shows her use of national dress in the Southeast Asian political context.

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Sati Handprints

This image of the hands of Hindu widows and concubines of the ruling family of the Rajput state of Jodhpur, also known as Marwar, memorializes the devotion of these women and the high status of the men for whom the women committed sati.

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Sati Engraving: A Gentoo Woman Burning Herself

From the late 1500s and into early 1800s, adventurous and artistically talented European men and a few women traveled to Asia and India, in particular, to see sites and cultures considered exotic. They recorded their impression in prose and in sketches, the latter being transformed into engravings that illustrated their published accounts of their travels.

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