Photographing Farmworkers in California

Front Cover
Stanford University Press, 2004 - Photography - 329 pages
As exploited and colonized people, California farmworkers have attracted such massive, overwhelming photographic scrutiny that today their story cannot be told, studied, or understood without engaging the photographic dimension. Although the work of Dorothea Lange and other photographers from the 1930s often comes to mind, virtually every photographer of consequence at some time, for some reason, photographed in the fields of the Golden State. This includes such unlikely twentieth-century artists as fashion photographer Richard Avedon and commercial photographer Max Yavno, along with the nineteenth-century masters Carleton E. Watkins and Eadweard Muybridge. Their work, however, does not unfold along neat, predictable lines. While it has both obscured the place of field hands in modern agriculture and made a case against the farm labor system as an instrument of poverty and oppression, the best of these photographs goes far beyond advertising and exposť, cutting through layers of ignorance and indifference and raising difficult moral questions that force us to reflect on the extent to which, as a society, we require the subservience of an entire class of people. This volume presents 282 of these important photographs.

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Photographing farmworkers in California

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An award-winning independent scholar, photographer, journalist, and historian (e.g., Beasts of the Field: A Narrative History of California Farmworkers, 1769-1913 ), Street specializes in California ... Read full review

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About the author (2004)

Richard Steven Street is an independent scholar and writer. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Visiting Professor and Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center, Dr. Street has been an award-winning photographer, historian, and journalist specializing in California agriculture and agricultural labor. He is the author of Beasts of the Field: A Narrative History of California Farmworkers, 1769-1913 (Stanford, 2004), and he is currently finishing a multivolume history of California farmworkers.

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