Joseph R. Allen Collection
Explore hundreds of Joseph R. Allen images in the Department of Asian Languages & Literatures Open Collection in the Digital Content Library.
This collection derives from my travels in China and Taiwan in the 1980s and 1990s. I took most of the China photographs while acting as a lecturer for tours conducted by various cultural and academic organizations and institutions in the United States. These tours were some of the earliest encounters between ordinary Americans and Chinese since the establishment of the Peoples’ Republic in 1949. In the early days, these trips involved relative hardship and frustration; the later trips included five star hotels with luxurious amenities. For me, these were a dream come true—I had begun my Chinese studies during the height of the Cultural Revolution and at the time had no hope of ever going to China. So for these early trips I was very much just as much a tourist as were my clients. Although I had a deep background in Chinese culture by that time, these were my first on-the-ground experiences. Sure I had read about the lonesome calls of the gibbons in the Yangtze gorges, but to actually hear them was another thing—what the Chinese call tihui “knowing it bodily.” The early photographs (from 1981 and 1983) depict China just emerging from the cocoon of Mao’s rule, while the ones from the 1990s capture the country in the first waves of post-socialist change—consumerism, personal autonomy, and new social classes.
The 1990s photographs of Taiwan represent a very different perspective. I had been studying in Taiwan since the mid-1970s and had made many return trips. The island was full of friends and memories. In the 1990s I was beginning serious study of Taipei city as a cultural phenomenon and these photos represent those early explorations: the colonial city, public spaces both casual and formal, the cosmopolitanism of the cultural products, and the people passing through this time and space. In these I am more a resident than a tourist.
All the photographs were shot with on Kodachrome and Ektackrome 35 mm slides. I used Nikon cameras, from an early Nikkorex F, with F2 lens, to a Nikon FM2 with variety of lenses; some of the more recent photographs were shot with an Olympus Stylus with 140 zoom.
Joseph R. Allen
Department of Asian Languages & Literatures
December 3, 2016