“Cultural Reflection And Cross-Cultural Bridges Through The Photographic Process”

A study plan for NATV 7250 “Culture: Theory & Praxis”; Instructor: Prof. Niigaan Sinclair

The focus for my studies in NATV 7250 “Culture: Theory & Praxis” will be to engage and participate with members of Winnipeg’s (Treaty 1) First Nations communities through the act and expression of photography. The result of this interaction would be the production and presentation of completed images along with written reflection and observations.

The act of photography exposes the photographer to the subject, inasmuch as the subject is exposed to the photographer. This mutual exposure creates an opportunity for engagement. The act of photography provides for a dialogue between the subject and an imagined audience, with the photographer as intermediary. The subject may present an idealized or expressive self that is presented to the photographer, and thereby to the imagined audience.

The form of the photographs in this work would be traditional black-and-white images produced from film negatives. The process of creating the images, including its wet-darkroom techniques, is inherently deliberative and reflective. Literally, no image is complete without it.

Traditional black-and-white images of this form would mirror the photographic forms in use during earlier photographic interactions among Canada’s First Nations people. The contemporary images of this project, using the historical tonal vocabulary of black-and-white images, may superimpose onto the existing chronicle of black-and-white images, sharing, extending, but also altering their narrative.

Thus, this project will entail the following facets.

  1. Entering into the cultural contexts of members of First Nations communities.
  2. Engaging with community members through dialogue and active participation.
  3. Creating a record through photography and written observations.
  4. Reviewing research literature related to First Nations peoples and culture, and the role of photography in their interactions with each other and with settler culture.
  5. Selecting and producing completed images.
  6. Reviewing and reflecting on written field notes.
  7. Creating a written report reflecting on key findings.

Proposed Reading List

Books, Dissertations

  • Banks, M., & Morphy, H. (1999). Rethinking Visual Anthropology. Yale University Press.
  • Cummins, B. (2004). Faces of the North: The Ethnographic Photography of John Honigmann. Dundurn.
  • Curtis, E. S. (2006). The North American Indian, Vol. 1. Retrieved from http://www.gutenberg.org.proxy1.lib.umanitoba.ca/ebooks/19449
  • Francis, D. (2011). The Imaginary Indian: The Image of the Indian in Canadian Culture. Arsenal Pulp Press.
  • Lawlor, L., & Curtis, E. S. (2005). Shadow Catcher: The Life and Work of Edward S. Curtis. U of Nebraska Press.
  • O’Reilly, K. (2012). Ethnographic Methods. Routledge.
  • Paakspuu, L. K. (2014, April 1). Rhetorics of Colonialism in Visual Documentation (Thesis). Retrieved from https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/handle/1807/44126
  • Prosser, J. (Ed.). (2005). Image-based Research. Routledge. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9780203980330
  • Rinehart, F. A., & Ortiz, S. J. (2004). Beyond the Reach of Time and Change: Native American Reflections on the Frank A. Rinehart Photograph Collection. University of Arizona Press.
  • Silversides, B. (1994). The Face Pullers: Photographing Native Canadians, 1871-1939. Fifth House Publishers.


  • Clark, A., Prosser, J., & Wiles, R. (2010). Ethical issues in image-based research. Arts & Health, 2(1), 81–93. doi:10.1080/17533010903495298
  • Ozanne, J. L., Moscato, E. M., & Kunkel, D. R. (2013). Transformative Photography: Evaluation and Best Practices for Eliciting Social and Policy Changes. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 32(1), 45–65. doi:10.1509/jppm.11.161
  • Radley, A., & Taylor, D. (2003). Remembering One’s Stay in Hospital: A Study in Photography, Recovery and Forgetting. Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine, 7(2), 129–159. doi:10.1177/1363459303007002872
  • Truchon, K. (2007). Challenging Stereotypes about First Nations Children and Youth: Collaborative Photography with the Innu from Uashat mak Mani-Utenam. Children, Youth and Environments, 17(2), 254–279.

Other Resources

  • Lower, R. (Director) (2013). Shameless Propaganda [Motion picture]. Canada: National Film Board of Canada.
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