Photography in Africa

June 2012
110 black and white illustrations
288 pages
25.4x17.8 cm
James Currey
BISAC PHO010000, SOC002010, HIS001000

Photography in Africa

Ethnographic Perspectives

Edited by Richard Vokes

Gives an ethnographic account of the complexities of the use of photography in Africa, both historically and in contemporary practice.
This collection of studies in African photography examines, through a series of empirically rich historical and ethnographic cases, the variety of ways in which photographs are produced, circulated, and engaged across a range of social contexts. In so doing, it elucidates the distinctive characteristics of African photographic practices and cultures, vis-à-vis those of other forms of 'vernacular photography' worldwide. In addition, these studies develop a reflexive turn, examining the history of academic engagement with these African photographic cultures, and reflecting on the distinctive qualities of the ethnographic method as a means for studying such phenomena.
The volume critically engages current debates in African photography and visual anthropology. First, it extends our understanding of the variety of ways in which both colonial and post-colonial states in Africa have used photography as a means for establishing, and projecting, their authority. Second, it moves discussion of African photography away from an exclusive focus on the role of the 'the studio' and looks at the circulations through which the studios' products - the photographs themselves - later pass as artefacts of material culture. Last, it makes an important contribution to our understanding of the relationship between photography and ethnographic research methods, as these have been employed in Africa.

Richard Vokes is Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, and author of Ghosts of Kanungu

Table of Contents

Introduction - Part I Photography & the Ethnographic Encounter - Richard Vokes
Double Alienation: Evans-Pritchard's Zande & Nuer Photographs in Comparative Perspective - Christopher Morton
Photographing 'the Bridge': Product & Process in the Analysis of a Social Situation in Non-modern Zululand - Chris Wingfield
Frontier Photographs: Northern Kenya & the Paul Baxter Collection - Neil Carrier and Kimo Quaintance
Memories of a Blue Nile Home: Still Picture, Moving Contexts & Multimedia Linkage - Wendy James
Memories of a Blue Nile Home: Still Picture, Moving Contexts & Multimedia Linkage - Part II Picturing the Nation: Photography, Memory & Resistance - Judith Aston
Emptying the Gallery: The Archive's Fuller Circle - Erin Haney
'Ca Bouscoulait!': Democratization & Photography in Senegal - Jennifer Bajorek
'A Once & Future Eden': Gorongosa National Park & the Making of Mozambique - Katie McKeown
Reflections on Urban Space, the Visual & Political Affect in Kabila's Kinshasa - Part III The Social Life of Photographs - Katrien Pype
On 'the Ultimate Patronage Machine': Photography & Substantial Relations in Rural South-western Uganda - Richard Vokes
'The Terror of the Feast': Photography, Textiles & Memory in Weddings along the East African Coast - Heike Behrend
Ceremonies, Sitting Rooms & Albums: How Okiek Displayed Photographs in the 1990s - Corinne Kratz


The collection is an important and nuanced contribution that will be of wide interest to Africanists, and scholars concerned with photography, imperialism and postcolonialism. ANTHROPOLOGICAL FORUM

A valuable companion for the broad themes it explores. AUSTRALASIAN REVIEW OF AFRICAN STUDIES

These essays and Richard Vokes's presentation offer fascinating examples of photography's intersection with ethnography. AFRICAN AFFAIRS

Richard Vokes's edited work, Photography in Africa: Ethnographic Perspectives, includes essays that dissect the role of photography (as image and practice) within anthropologists' ethnographic work, and it is this historically and ethnographically informed attention to the construction of the photographic archive on Africa that presents a new lens to consider the overlap, and even lack of distinction, between genres like "vernacular" and official, or "state," photography. AFRICAN STUDIES REVIEW

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