chapter  3
Framing and Masking
Photographing the Interpreter in/of Colonial Conflict
ByRachael Langford
Pages 12

This chapter discusses Mary Louise Pratt's notion of the contact zone, which provides a framework for understanding the interpreter as historical agent, as cultural artefact, and as an embodiment and channeller of vectors of power. It has thus provided a privileged optic for understanding the role, status and mediations of the colonial-era interpreter. The images studied articulate representational strategies that frame and contain readings of the role of the interpreter by the use of captions, poses and stagings of the interpretational act, or present maskings of the person of the interpreter where apparel is more semantically significant than the individual. Overall, these framed and masked depictions of the colonial-era native interpreter emphasize the native interpreter's subordinate, go-between status, whether by presenting the interpreter as backward and primitive, as evolving towards European norms or as excitingly or pejoratively exotic. In contrast, the European interpreter is imaged as a paean to mastery, literacy, civilization and rightful dominance.