Portraiture & Photography in Africa

Portraiture & Photography in Africa

Portraiture & Photography in Africa

Portraiture & Photography in Africa

Synopsis

Beautifully illustrated, Portrait Photography in Africa offers new interpretations of the cultural and historical roles of photography in Africa. Twelve leading scholars look at early photographs, important photographers' studios, the uses of portraiture in the 19th century, and the current passion for portraits in Africa. They review a variety of topics, including what defines a common culture of photography, the social and political implications of changing technologies for portraiture, and the lasting effects of culture on the idea of the person depicted in the photographic image.

Excerpt

John Peffer

In 1894, the African American minister C. S. Smith toured the coastal towns of western Africa seeking modern compatriots, business opportunities, and peers. His published account of that journey is illustrated with photographs of local black elites of the region, mostly the work of local black photographers. By including their images in book form, Smith helped create a record of Africa’s early modern urbane elites for overseas viewers and for posterity. His book also preserves a few images that are known to have been made by the Lutterodt family, but whose original prints are now lost. Earlier, during the 1880s, Mpongwe women in the area of present-day Gabon posed for small photographs to give to acquaintances and lovers among the European men of the colonial town of Libreville. These women’s cartede-visite-format images also acted as cultural intermediaries within the libidinal and visual economy then connecting coastal Africa to the wider Atlantic world. Moving forward in time, young men and women in the post-independence 1960s and 1970s in Kenya and Mali had themselves portrayed in novel ways, without the elaborate backdrops characteristic of colonial era studio portraits, foregrounding instead a newly dynamic sense of agency and individuality that was partly manifested through an adaptation of the clothing and poses of international pop stars. in our own time, a young woman posing for a researcher’s camera in rural Zambia asks to be surreptitiously photographed in her husband’s clothing. Photographers in the Gambia, frustrated by an official ban by the military government on the use . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.