Portraiture, material culture and photography in the Cherokee Nation's "first family", 1843-1907

Doubt, Emma (2018) Portraiture, material culture and photography in the Cherokee Nation's "first family", 1843-1907. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis examines expressions of affluence and modernity in the context of nineteenth-century Indian Territory, with a particular focus on the Oklahoma Cherokee Nation. It does so through a consideration of the portraiture, material culture and photography of one of the most influential political families in Cherokee history; namely, the Ross family, who were considered to be the dynasty of the Cherokee Nation in the nineteenth century. The thesis examines the art and objects that were commissioned and circulated within the family between 1843-1907, a period in which the categories of ‘modernity’ and ‘Indigeneity’ were presented as antagonistic in troubling anthropological ventures and visual forays into salvage ethnography. The thesis seeks to challenge this narrative with the Ross family as a primary case study, and to explore the ways in which modernity was produced and encouraged within Indigenous contexts.

The project brings together previously unexamined materials from important archives in the Cherokee Nation, including the Jennie Ross Cobb and Anne Ross Piburn collections, the archives of the Cherokee Female Seminary, and the object and archive collections of the historic George M. Murrell Home where generations of Rosses lived throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. To this end, the objects under consideration include painted portraiture, the domestic objects that have been preserved in the Ross family home, and photography. Though the family’s most famous member, Chief John Ross, has been featured in a number of important historical studies, current scholarship has yet to pay serious attention to the collections generated and preserved within the family. As such, this thesis contributes original art historical research, and explores the fascinating ways in which the Ross family’s active participation in visual culture establishes an alternative narrative within nineteenth-century Indian Territory.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > Art History
Subjects: E History America > E11 America (General) > E0075 Indians of North America
N Fine Arts
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2018 10:52
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2019 10:25
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/74674

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