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Photography, Film and the Techno-Politics of Brazil's Rondon Commission

  • K3.11, Strand Campus Strand London, England, WC2N 5RJ United Kingdom (map)

The Brazil Institute invites you to a lecture by Maite Conde.


At the start of the twentieth century, Brazilian military officer Cândido Mariano da Silva Rondon (1865-1958) led what became known as the Rondon Commission in a massive undertaking: the building of telegraph lines connecting the Amazon region and its indigenous peoples with the country’s coastal cities. This task of stringing together the nation through telegraph lines sought to forge a unified community of “Brazilians” in the new Republic. Visual technology, both photography and film, was part of this political endeavor, and it was used to consolidate and expand the state’s order and progress in the tropical backlands. This talk will examine the Rondon Commission’s visual archive, exploring ways in which it articulated and responded to the Republic’s “techno-politics,” defined by Timothy Mitchell as an operation of political rule via the technological workings of infrastructures. It argues that while photography and film were part of the same techno-material as the telegraph, their production and reception often escaped the progressive order or the nation.



Maite Conde is University Lecturer in Brazilian culture at The University of Cambridge and Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge. She is the author of  Consuming Visions. Cinema, Writing and Modernity in Rio de Janeiro (Uni of Virgiia Press, 2012), the editor and translator of Between Conformity and Resistance (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), co-editor of Paulo Emilio Salles Gomes. On Brazil and Global Cinema (IB Tauris, 2017) and also Manifesting Democracy? Urban Protests and the Politics of Representation in Post 2013 Brazil(Wiley Blackwell 2017). Her new monograph, Foundation Films. Early Cinema and Modernity in Brazil, is forthcoming with the University of California Press.

This talk, part of the King's Brazil Institute Research Seminar Series, will be followed by a Q&A and wine.