“A Devil's Engine”: Photography and Spirits in the Western Solomon Islands

Wright, Chris. 2008. “A Devil's Engine”: Photography and Spirits in the Western Solomon Islands. Visual Anthropology, 21(4), pp. 364-380. ISSN 0894-9468 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article looks at photographic practices in Roviana Lagoon in the western Solomon Islands of the South Pacific. It argues that the efficacy or affective power of photographs in this context must be understood in terms of what is locally called maqomaqo (soul or shadow). Photographs contain a material trace of the essence of what they portray, which enables them to “touch” their viewers. This case study allows us to think about the innate metaphysic of photography, and about the way in which “photography” only ever exists as a series of local photographies, which emerge from the interplay between this innate metaphysic of the photographic technology and local ontologies.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Research Office > REF2014


16 July 2008Published

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Date Deposited:

21 Jun 2013 09:40

Last Modified:

16 Jun 2017 13:04

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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