The photography of indigenous bodies, which served as a contribution to anthropologists or ethnologists, had different readings, since in some cases a latent erotic reading was hidden behind these images. Between 1880 and 1920 , a good number of photographs of indigenous people circulated in major European cities. The main use of this visual production is associated with anthropology . Based on the positivist scientific model , the photography of naked bodies served anthropological studies, as a document that proved the existence of different races . At a time when the concepts of race and evolution were strongly linked to moral considerations, and assessments of intellectual capacity that took European society as a model of civilization, these concepts could be ordered in a hierarchy of superiority and the photographic document was considered a tool to help each racial group take his place.
These nude photographs quickly acquired wide legitimacy and professional utility within anthropological studies.
The photographed motifs are divided between:
- Anthropometric photography : used to account for body proportions, skin color, etc.
- Photographs taken in the field : of a more documentary nature, they showed the presence of the researcher in the workplace.
- Portraits, postcards : in these you could see an armed stage, careful lighting, presence of costumes, poses of the portrayed models.