chapter  6
Framing the Interpreter’s Wife
ByAnxo Fernández-Ocampo, Michaela Wolf
Pages 11

There is a small group of postcards, representative of the orientalizing aesthetics of Indochinese women, devoted to the wives of native interpreters from colonial French Indochina, all published between 1904 and 1910 by the first professional photographer in Tonkin: Pierre-Marie Alexis Dieulefils. Pierre Dieulefils contributed actively to enhance the role of the native mediator by picturing individuals or groups of male interpreters. This chapter examines three postcards that he published on the subject of the interpreter's wife. By transferring the properties of the interpreter onto the woman or wife, the act of photography seems to reproduce the existing power relationships, as a strategy to fix the standing of the native colonial interpreter in society. The photographic dialectic between the supposed wife and the interpreter can yield a quite different interpretation once other elements of the picture's composition are analysed.