Open Access Senior Thesis
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
© 2014 Kaily A. Heitz
This thesis analyzes the way in which landscape photography has historically been used as a colonialist tool to perpetuate narratives of control over the American West during the mid to late 1800s. I use this framework to interrogate how these visual narratives enforced ideas about American identity and whiteness relative to power over the landscape, indigenous people and the Japanese-Americans imprisoned at Manzanar within Owens Valley, California. I argue that because photographic representation is controlled by colonist powers, images of people within the American West reinforce imperialist rhetoric that positions whiteness in control of the land; thus, white settlers used this narrative to justify their stagnating agricultural development in the Owens Valley, Native Americans were documented as a part of the landscape to be controlled, and the internees at Manzanar were portrayed such that Japanese culture was obscured in favor of assimilationist, Americanizing tropes of their status as new pioneers on the American Frontier.
Heitz, Kaily A., "Making the Desert Bloom: Landscape Photography and Identity in the Owens Valley American West" (2014). Pitzer Senior Theses. 50.