Australian Photography and Transnationalism


  • Anne Maxwell University of Melbourne


Until very recently, histories of Australian photography have remained primarily (and some would say stubbornly) nation-based, but this trend has begun to change under the impact of studies aimed at exploring the wider cultural influences impacting on the literature and artworks produced in the late colonial period.  In this paper, I explore some of the more obvious transnational features of late nineteenth and early twentieth century Australian photography using examples drawn from the two most popular genres of the day – portrait and landscape photography. Although I draw on only a few examples, it is enough to show that Australian photographers of the nineteenth century and early twentieth centuries were not just reliant on British conventions, they were also deploying the styles and conventions used by photographers in the other Pacific-based settler colonies of Canada, USA and New Zealand, a phenomenon that points to the increasingly connected world that was formed by what Caroline Elkins and Susan Pedersen have classed the white settler societies or ‘new world states’ of the Pacific region.  

Author Biography

Anne Maxwell, University of Melbourne

School of English Literatures, Philosophy and Languages


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