Photography and History in Colonial Southern Africa

Shades of Empire
Author(s):
  • Publication Date: September 2019
  • Dimensions and Pages: 234 x 156mm; 304pp 61 images
  • Paperback EAN: 978-1-77614-481-5
  • Rights: Africa
  • Recommended Price (ZAR): 350.00

Photography and History in Colonial Southern Africa is a rich and in-depth study of the relationship between photography and colonial history at the turn of the 20th century. Lorena Rizzo highlights the ways in which photographic images cut across conventional institutional boundaries and complicates rigid distinctions between the private and the public, the political and the aesthetic, the colonial and the vernacular, and the subject and the object. Rizzo argues that rather than understanding photographs primarily as a means of preserving and recreating the past in the present, we can also value them for how they evoke at once the need for and the limits of historical reconstruction.

The work is rich in detail. Readers will encounter photographs that range from prison albums from late 19th century Cape Town; police photographs from German Southwest Africa (Namibia) in the early 20th century; studio portraits commissioned by African women and men who applied for identity documents, travel permits and passports in the 1920s and 1930s; South African dompas photographs from the 1950s and 1960s; to African women collections assembled in the locations of Windhoek and Usakos in central Namibia, and aerial photography in the Eastern Cape in the mid-20th century. It is an important contribution to the area of photography and history. It will enhance further study into constructions of whiteness and blackness and the different modes in which the imperial project operated across borders.

‘…[this book] … achieves its aims in offering up new and at times, innovative, readings of the ways that these photographs and photographic collections produce entangled colonial, empire and other often unintended pasts’
— Professor Gary Minkley, NRF SARChI Chair in Social Change, University of Fort Hare.

‘… an important contribution to the historiography of Southern Africa and to theoretical discussions on photography, because it inserts a specifically Southern African perspective into current debates.’
— Jeremy Silvester, Director of the Museums Association of Namibia.

Introduction
Chapter 1 Assemblage: Photography and Colonial Policing in German South West Africa 1910-13
Chapter 2 Bodies and Things: Photography and the Person in Southern Africa, 1920s-1960s
Chapter 3 Augenblick: The Moment in Namibian photography, 1930s to 1960s
Chapter 4 Heterotopia/Emplacement: Aerial photography and mapping in the Eastern Cape, 1930s-1960s
Chapter 5 Presence: The Breakwater prison albums, Cape Town 1890s to 1900s and the presence of the past in historical photographs
Epilogue
References

About the Author
Lorena Rizzo is a senior researcher, lecturer and the co-chair of the Centre for African Studies at the University of Basel. She is a historian of Namibia and South Africa, with a special interest in gender and visual history.

‘…[this book] … achieves its aims in offering up new and at times, innovative, readings of the ways that these photographs and photographic collections produce entangled colonial, empire and other often unintended pasts’
— Professor Gary Minkley, NRF SARChI Chair in Social Change, University of Fort Hare.

‘… an important contribution to the historiography of Southern Africa and to theoretical discussions on photography, because it inserts a specifically Southern African perspective into current debates.’
— Jeremy Silvester, Director of the Museums Association of Namibia.

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