Unraveling Edward S. Curtis's The North American Indian
In the years 1900-1930, American photographer Edward S. Curtis realized his life’s work, the monumental twenty-volume book series The North American Indian (1907-1930). Over the years, this work has been both praised and criticized. In this comprehensive and innovative study, Herman Cohen Stuart corrects a number of persistent misconceptions about the way Curtis, for many the most image-defining and influential photographer of American Indians, has represented the indigenous peoples of North America. The author argues that Curtis was keenly aware of the major changes Native Americans faced in the early 20th century. As is demonstrated by a thorough – both quantitative and qualitative – analysis of both Curtis’s texts and photographic artwork, Curtis was deeply conscious of the fact that by, and even before, the turn of the century, Western influences had already made large inroads into Native American life. This book provides a reappraisal of Curtis's position during this complicated and trying period for Native Americans.
Herman Cohen Stuart studied psychology at Leiden University (the Netherlands), and achieved his MA in Health Care Policy and Management at Erasmus University Rotterdam (the Netherlands). He then held (senior) advisory positions in fields as diverse as health care and nature management until June 2022. In 2016, he earned a PhD degree from Radboud University Nijmegen (the Netherlands); his dissertation was entitled Verdwijning en Verandering - Beeldvorming en boodschappen in Edward S. Curtis’s The North American Indian (Vanishing and Change - Imagery and Messages in Edward S. Curtis’s The North American Indian). He is now an independent researcher with a special interest in Native American affairs.
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