Copyright Luciana Martins, Jessamy Harvey, Jean Lopes
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Latin America in Photography and Film


Page from an album of 'Views of Trinidad', including photographs and pressed leaves, c.1870-1880
Courtesy of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies


This project, currently under development, aims to develop a cross-referenced, searchable register of visual sources in the UK, documenting Britain’s photographic and filmic engagement with Latin America from the mid-nineteenth century to the end of World War II. In the areas of trade, diplomacy, agricultural production, geographical exploration, anthropology, culture and religion, the British presence in Latin America left a rich visual archive that has so far been under-researched.

Recovering an extant but neglected archive, Latin America in Photography and Film will provide researchers with a useful tool to address this imbalance. This long-term project will involve:

  • locating and listing all unpublished photographs and films of Latin America held in all repositories in the UK

  • developing an interactive database, incorporating the template already in use for the Iberoamerican Museum of Visual Culture on the web.

Initially, research will be carried out in the following repositories in London: The British Film Institute, the Royal Geographical Society, the Royal Anthropological Institute, and the British Museum. Research on further repositories in London and elsewhere in the UK will be gradually undertaken as the project develops. Research will initially focus on a series of key areas, which will guide the organisation and cross-referencing of the database, including the photographic and filmic record of scientific expeditions, religious and cultural missions, and infrastructural projects carried out by British contractors, as well as commercial images of the region circulating in the UK.

We would like to thank the generous support of the Ostrovsky Family Fund.

For further information, please contact Dr Luciana Martins.


Centre for Iberian and Latin American Studies, School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD