Vagabond Age: Indenture and Photographic Memory

Date: February 25, 2020 - February 25, 2020
Time: 5:30pm - 6:30pm


The Clark Art Institute
225 South Street
Williamstown, MA 01267

Join Manton Fellow Natasha Eaton as she presents “Vagabond Age: Indenture and Photographic Memory.”

Eaton’s lecture addresses what might be called “bonded” art histories. She examines how individuals escaping slavery were perceived by some as habitual idlers, deserters, and a “regular nuisance” to the colony. After repeated arrests, these so-called vagabonds were often held in jail and made to do hard labor for the empire, thus becoming the ersatz labor force of the Public Works Department. In addition, confinement meant being subject to the camera. Eaton considers how the photographers of Port Louis, Mauritius, who were commandeered to document the incarcerated vagabond population, themselves occupied an ambiguous position. She asks, how do the images these photographers captured play into a system of coercion and emancipation and how might the dissemination and use of the image shape the construction of collective photographic memory?

Natasha Eaton is Reader in the History of Art at University College London where she specializes in British, colonial, and the arts of the South Asia. She has published widely in such journals as Art Bulletin, Oxford Art Journal, Eighteenth-century Studies, Cultural Critique, Journal of Material Culture,and Third Text. Eaton is a long-standing advisor to and editor of Third Text, where she runs three online platforms with Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll, Tessa Laird, and Alice Correia. Her monographs include Mimesis Across Empires: Artworks and Networks in India (Duke University Press, 2013), Colour, Art and Empire: The Nomadism of Representation (I.B.Tauris, 2013), and Vertiginous Exchange: Art, Colonial, Collecting (Routledge, forthcoming). At the Clark she will undertake research and writing toward a monograph on the interface of slavery, indenture, and vagabondage in the Indian Ocean.

Go back

Join The Email List!

Sign up for valuable offers and notifications about The Mohawk Trail and download your free Guidebook!