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Photography in Uruguay (1840–1985)  

Magdalena Broquetas

Photography arrived in Uruguay in February 1840, a few months after the invention of the daguerreotype was publicly announced in Paris. Throughout the 19th century it was used for multiple purposes, in various historical contexts, and in different activities. In its initial stage, until the 1920s, photography was used for commercial portraits and was used by the state to create a national identity, reinforce patriotic sentiment, and monitor and control the population. In the 20th century, the artistic movements that brought together amateurs in photography clubs became better known. At the same time, the expansion of at-home photography brought with it an increase in the number of camera users and significant changes in compositional styles, as well as in social perceptions of photography as a means for memory and identity construction. Concurrently, photography found its way onto the pages of the leading newspapers, supplements, and illustrated magazines that from 1930 until the late 1970s were the main source of information and entertainment for most Uruguayans. Throughout this period, photojournalism influenced the formation of public opinion and the preservation of the political and social order.