Photographic Encounters in the North: Rosemary Gilliat Eaton's 1960 Trip to the Eastern Canadian Arctic

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Siemens, Danielle




This thesis interrogates historic representations of gender, race, and landscape in the North through a case study of Canadian photojournalist Rosemary Gilliat’s 1960 trip to the eastern Arctic. Considering photography as a social practice and material object, I investigate Gilliat’s personal ritual of image-making, the encounter between photographer and Inuit subject, and the constitutive power of the resulting images. As a woman facing numerous gender biases, Gilliat empathized with her Indigenous subjects and created photographs that often reflect a collaborative space of interaction. Yet, she did not exist outside of colonialism’s oppressive structures; thus her published images simultaneously supplement and support primitivizing views of the North and Inuit. Gilliat’s photographs, therefore, are not unequivocal documents of history but performative objects with complex and multivalent meaning. Consequently, I argue for the archive as a productive site for the recuperation of women’s professional histories and the excavation of narratives of intercultural encounter.


Art History




Carleton University

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Master of Arts: 

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Art History

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Theses and Dissertations

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