Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Raymond, Catherine

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Art and Design


Art history


This thesis explores the marginally studied topic of Burmese photography from the colonial period of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. With a large emphasis on the oeuvres of the foreign photographers Felice Beato (1832 -- 1909), Philipp Adolphe Klier (1845 -- 1911), and D.A. Ahuja (? -- ?), this study analyzes how visual representations of Burma's people were fabricated, mass-produced, and contextualized by foreign audiences to provide additional justification for the colonial mission. By combining Edward Said's concept of orientalism with Laura Mulvey's concept of the gaze, this study considers how the British empire looked upon and created a visual corpus of Burmese women and men as "the Other". This study argues that the creation and treatment of Burma's visual milieu was fully informed by an orientalizing gaze that simultaneously commodified and fetishized the native population. Further, this study applies Roland Barthes's concept of the myth and his semiological system to analyze and contextualize contemporary use of colonial images in "pop culture" merchandise created by foreign-owned businesses established in Myanmar in recent years. Additionally, this study contributes new findings based on archival and art historical research that helps clarify and establish a clearer biographical timeline for the photographers studied.


Advisors: Catherine Raymond.||Committee members: Jane M. Ferguson; Rebecca Houze.||Includes illustrations.||Includes bibliographical references.


201 pages




Northern Illinois University

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