Photography and transport history: a speculative approach to a theoretical framework

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Photography has been recording different aspects of human activity since the early nineteenth century. Additional innovations since then have rendered it less expensive, less cumbersome and more accessible to users. Today, the universe of photographs is immense. In this paper, I offer a theoretical approach to the use of photography in mobility and transport history. I argue that photography is much more than a mere illustrative resource and that it can be used as a primary source that provides visual materiality to aspects of transportation in the past (subjects, objects and landscapes), which can complement information found in written sources. Moreover, I speculate that photography may have a double role: as a vehicle that transports observers to faraway locations and ideas and landscapes back to observers; and as a tool for territorial appropriation of peripheral territories by core regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-332
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Transport History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • methodology
  • Ontology
  • territorial appropriation
  • theory


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