The Japanese photographers of Broome: Photography and cross-cultural encounter

Melissa Miles, Kate Warren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


The remote West Australian town of Broome has a unique photography heritage that sheds new light on the complexities of photography and intercultural relations. During the early twentieth century thriving Japanese communities were established in this region around the lucrative pearling industry. These Japanese communities also helped to develop a fascinating photography culture in Broome. Photography was not simply a business opportunity for the Japanese or a means of documenting people and events it was a medium through which hierarchised social relations were produced, redefined, and challenged. This article examines photographs by these Japanese residents as an important site of cross-cultural communication and interpretation. These photographs of Anglo-Australian, Japanese, and Aboriginal residents of Broome enrich the study of cross-cultural photographic encounters, and emphasise the dynamic and dispersed qualities of Australian photographic practice and history. Here national histories of photography are usefully conceptualised as the products of imbricated social, economic, and cultural relations that operate across regional, national, and international realms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-24
Number of pages22
JournalHistory of Photography
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Broome
  • Japanese-Aboriginal relations
  • Japanese-Australian relations
  • Portrait photography
  • Yasukichi Murakami (1880-1944)

Cite this