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Lost trophies: Hunting animals and the imperial souvenir in Walton Ford’s Pancha Tantra

Whittle, Matthew (2016) Lost trophies: Hunting animals and the imperial souvenir in Walton Ford’s Pancha Tantra. Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 51 (2). pp. 196-210. ISSN 0021-9894. E-ISSN 1741-6442. (doi:10.1177/0021989415624957) (KAR id:63710)


This article argues that the work of contemporary American artist Walton Ford stages the paradoxical role that trophy hunting played in both establishing and undermining the strict racial, biological and ecological hierarchization of colonial environments. American Flamingo (1992) and Lost Trophy (2005), from the 2009 collection Pancha Tantra, foreground how the tradition of nineteenth-century naturalist art, characterized by John James Audubon, and popular narratives of trophy hunting expeditions, such as Ernest Hemingway’s Green Hills of Africa (1935), are complicit in colonialist domination. In doing so, Ford’s watercolours of hunted animals, which adopt many of the tropes popularized by Audubon, point to the Spivakian notion of “epistemic violence” behind an ostensibly innocuous, taxonomic art form. At the same time, the painting Lost Trophy recalls the writings of Joseph Conrad and George Orwell, investing animals with the power to unsettle the assumed superiority of the colonial hunter. My interdisciplinary analysis adopts literary strategies for reading artistic works, allowing for a broader understanding of the growing relationship between postcolonial studies and ecocriticism.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/0021989415624957
Additional information:
Uncontrolled keywords: Walton Ford, John James Audubon, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, trophy hunting, contemporary art, postcolonial ecocriticism, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Subjects: N Visual Arts
N Visual Arts > N Visual arts (General). For photography, see TR
N Visual Arts > NC Drawing. Design. Illustration
N Visual Arts > ND Painting
P Language and Literature
P Language and Literature > PE English philology and language
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
P Language and Literature > PS American literature
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
Depositing User: Matt Whittle
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2017 14:09 UTC
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2021 16:33 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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