2017 Volume 18 Issue 1 Pages 37-68
Although much attention has been paid recently to “native” anthropology and ethnology in Japan, relatively little has been given to “native” ethnographic photography. In addition, the contributions of “native” lay researchers in the historical ethnology of Japan have not been discussed much in English. Partly to counter these imbalances, this essay explores the ethnographic photography of Akita farmer Yoshida Saburō, an adjunct member of Shibusawa Keizō’s Attic Museum research society. Through a comparison with similar work by a “native” North American protégé of Franz Boas, the authority-granting power and guiding influence of the patron in such cases is clarified. Furthermore, implications for ethnographic representation in such situations of researcher liminality, and the roles that photography played in Yoshida’s “native” ethnography, are elucidated. The essay concludes with a discussion of the nature and value of Yoshida's ethnographic photography, and a consideration of the theoretical implications of its interpretation and usage today, as well as a thought on one special possibility for photography in ethnographic research.