ABSTRACT

The first photograph that the author had encountered, when flipping through a recent Chinese book on the Ami people of Taiwan, shows not only the native inhabitants but also the Japanese anthropologist Torii Ryuzo. While a number of Western scholars have begun to examine the entanglement of the photographic objects during the European colonial era in this light, their work has not extended to the case of Taiwan aborigines in the time of Japanese imperialism. Torii's photographs of Taiwanese material culture also followed the perspective of constituting objects as scientific specimens. The notion of Torii as a Westernized Japanese anthropologist is demonstrated in one of the earliest photographs taken during the winter of 1897 at Botel Tobago. His research on the island acknowledged the notion of 'salvage ethnography', which highlights the urgency for anthropologists to set out to places where indigenous people were vanishing under colonial rule.