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TALK: Probing “Presence” – Photographies and Policing in Colonial South Africa

February 23, 2016 from 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

TALK: Probing “Presence” – Photographies and Policing in Colonial South Africa

Lorena Rizzo (University of Bielefeld & Harvard University)
Tuesday, February 23, 2016 / 2:00 PM
Social Sciences & Media Studies (SSMS) 2135

This talk stems from research conducted in the Western Cape Archives in 2012/3. While working on a collection of photographic albums produced in a Cape Town convict station in the late 19th and early 20th century, Rizzo came across a pair of photographs portraying a convict who bore her surname. She use this archival coincidence or curiosity as an entry point into a methodological and theoretical discussion of photography’s status as a historical source and the medium’s appeal to genealogical research and memory studies. While revisiting some of the classical texts on photography, among them Roland Barthes Camera Lucida, the essay more importantly reflects on Eelco Runia’s notion of ‘presence’ in order to examine some of the ways in which historical photographs resonate into South African contemporary negotiations of the past that have been fleshed out in diverse practices and forms of historical knowledge production.

Dr. Lorena Rizzo (Department of History, University of Bielefeld, Germany, and Centre for African Studies, Harvard University) is the author of Gender & Colonialism: A History of Kaoko in North-West Nambia, 1870s-1950s (Basler Afrika Bibliographien, 2012) and of numerous publications on the history of photography in Africa.

Sponsored by the  IHC’s African Studies RFG, the Department of History (Empires, Borderlands, and their Legacies Research Cluster), and the Department of Film and Media Studies.


Event Details