Who Should Own Images of Enslaved People?
Since their rediscovery in 1976, the images of slaves known as the Zealy Daguerreotypes have been held by Harvard's Peabody Museum. The images were originally commissioned to provide visual evidence of the racist theory of polygenesis as expounded upon by Harvard professor Louis Agassiz.For years, Harvard exerted strict control over the use of the images and extracted "hefty" licensing fees for their use. In 2019, Tamara Lanier who claimed to be descended from two of the slaves sued Harvard for possession of the images. And in 2020, Aperture and Peabody Press published a book entitled "To Make Their Own Way in the World: The Enduring Legacy of the Zealy Daguerreotypes" – a compendium of essays that examined the historical creation and context of the images as well as contemporary interpretations of their meaning.In this episode of Vision Slightly Blurred, Sarah and Allen delve into issues of intent and consent, and how inequity in photography should be addressed in the 21st century.