Exposing Latent Images: Daguerreotypes in the Museum and Beyond


Nov 29, 2016, 6:00 pm


Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA
Ilisa Barbash
Ilisa Barbash

Race, Representation, and Museums Series Lecture 

Ilisa Barbash, Curator of Visual Anthropology, Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology

Among the Peabody Museum’s most important and controversial objects are fifteen daguerreotypes of African and African-American slaves from 1850, taken by Joseph Zealy. They were acquired by Louis Agassiz, the first director of Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ), who hoped they would bolster the erroneous theory of polygenesis which held that people of different races were of different species. A contemporary of Darwin’s, Agassiz never published these images and they remained unexamined until discovered in a Peabody attic in 1976. Ilisa Barbash will discuss how scholars and artists have used these portraits in discussions and depictions of race, photography, vision, gender, power, the body, and anthropology.

Free and open to the public. Free event parking available at the 52 Oxford Street Garage.

Presented in collaboration with the Departments of Anthropology and Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University

See all Race, Representation, and Museums lectures

Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology Department of Anthropology Department of Human Evolutionary Biology