Leisure travel can be traced back to the “Grand Tour” starting from the 17th  century, however more widespread tourism flourished shortly after the Industrial Revolution at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. Steamships did not only transport people and goods across the sea; images both as objects and as visual ideas were sent back and forth. From images showing architectural and historical sites to the exoticised and staged photographs of certain “types” of peoples, this array of visuals helped shape an overall image of foreign cultures and territories that would otherwise have not been comprehensible to the so-called “armchair traveller.Visual representations of foreign regions acted as souvenirs and were also vital when identifying one’s home or nationality. Photographs of colonised territories had a profound effect on how occupied places were perceived and understood; they served as a connecting tie between the foreign and the familiar.  

In recent years, scholars such as Elizabeth Edwards and Costanza Caraffa focused on the historical significance of photographs as objects. The tactility and haptic qualities of a photo object are most important, especially when considering how these objects travelled from one person or one region to another. Rather than only focusing on the materiality of these pictorial objects, we want to highlight the travel of both material and immaterial images geographically and across media. Circulating as single photographs, in albums, on postcards or printed in magazines and travel guide books, images function as mediators and agents of ideas and knowledge of a foreign place. However, in current research on transnational and trans-colonial movements of people, and concepts, images are most often neglected. Therefore we want to discuss the complex meaning of these travelling images.

Concept and Organisation

Sophie Junge, Center for Studies in the History and Theory of Photography at the Institute of Art History, University of Zurich

Stella Jungmann, Center for Studies in the History and Theory of Photography at the Institute of Art History, University of Zurich

Xenia Piëch, Institute of Art History, Section for East Asian Art, University of Zurich

Eliane Kurmann, Department of History, University of Zurich