The Contact Zone

Power relations in visual representation of foreign lands, people, and objects


  • Bianca Tiziana Salvo Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia



post-colonialism, photography, Western gaze, archives, contact zone., Photography, Western gaze, Archives, Contact Zone


Since its origin, photography has had a close relationship with the manner in which discoveries have been displayed and understood by the Western world. Even if the accessibility to photographs is currently understood as a global phenomenon, the careful study of digital archives and photographic narratives of the other reveals a biased and defective gaze. Based on Marie Luise Pratt’s proposals of the “Contact Zone”, this essay reflects upon the complexities in the representation of foreign lands, people, and objects as a way to understand the historical power relationships embedded in photographic images and archives.


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Author Biography

Bianca Tiziana Salvo, Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia

Bianca Salvo (*1986) is a visual artist living and working in Bogotá, Colombia. She graduated in 2012 with an MA in Photography from the London College of Communication and she is currently lecturer in photography at the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá. Her research explores the connections among beliefs and the image and points to question the role of western gaze in the production of evidence and proofs of idealistic scenarios of civilization.


George Didi-Huberman, “Cuando las imágenes tocan lo real”. Archivo FX Documentos y materiales. Número 1. Mayo de 2007. Salónica,

Harlan, Theresa. “Ajuste de enfoque para una presencia indígena”, in Fotografía, Antropología y Colonialismo (1854-2006), edited by Juan Naranjo, 227-231. Barcelona: Gustavo Gili SL, 2006.

“Notes on Travel and Theory James Clifford”. Center for Cultural Studies,

Pinney, Christopher. “The Parallel History of Anthropology and Photography”, in Anthropology and Photography (1860-1920), edited by Elisabeth Edwards, 74-97. New Haven and London: Yale University Press,1994.

Pratt, Mary Louise. “Arts of the Contact Zone.” Profession, 1991: 33–40.

Pratt, Mary Louise. Ojos Imperiales: Literatura de viajes y transculturación. Buenos Aires: Universidad Nacional de Quimeles,1997.

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How to Cite

Tiziana Salvo, B. (2023). The Contact Zone: Power relations in visual representation of foreign lands, people, and objects. ARCHIVO PAPERS, 3(1), 84–99.