‘Photography and Tibet’ by Clare Harris discussed by Elizabeth Edwards and Thupten Kelsang

Mysterious and magnificent, Tibet has for centuries been a source of fascination for outsiders and a captivating yet troublesome subject for photographers. The country is both geographically and politically challenging, and access has never been easy. Even today, photography of Tibet often remains embroiled in debates about the country’s past, present and future. This book is the first historical survey of photography in Tibet and the Himalayas, and it offers remarkable new insights into the attempts of both foreign and Tibetan photographers to document the region.

Leading Tibetologist Professor Clare Harris (Pitt Rivers Museum and the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography) combines the results of extensive research in museums and archives with her own fieldwork in Tibetan communities to present material that has never been made public or discussed before. This includes the earliest known photographs taken in Tibet, dating to 1863, the experimental camerawork of senior Tibetan monks – including the 13th Dalai Lama – and the creations of contemporary Tibetan photographers and artists. With every image she examines the complex religious, political and cultural climate in which it was produced. 

Clare joined an expert panel to discuss the book and its themes: 

Thupten Kelsang (Tibetan Art Collective)

Elizabeth Edwards (School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford)

This event was chaired by Geraldine Johnson (History of Art, University of Oxford).

You can watch a video of the event here.