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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Portraits in the hands of strangers: colonial and postcolonial postcards as vignettes to African women's history
Author:Adedze, AgbenyegaISNI
Periodical:Afrika Zamani: revue annuelle d'histoire africaine = Annual Journal of African History (ISSN 0850-3079)
Geographic terms:Africa
historical sources
External link:https://www.asclibrary.nl/docs/376034831.pdf
Abstract:When photography was invented in 1837, it was referred to as a 'mirror with a memory' that instantly transformed photographs into historical documents. The circumstances under which photographs are produced have a huge impact on their meaning. Thus, the reading of photographs requires special skills from the historian. Hence the first objective of this paper is to discuss the methodological practices relevant to the study of historical photographs in Africa - the archaeology of photographs, including production (subject and cameraman/woman), printer/publisher, owner, anonymous/strange consumers, collectors, etc. Secondly, the author delves into the history of the representation of the African woman in photographs from the colonial period to the present. Of particular interest are postcards from three photographers, namely: Edmond F. Fortier of France, Alex A. Acolatse of Togo, and the German Uwe Ommer. Both Fortier and Acolatse worked during the colonial period, whereas Ommer's photographs are recent and focus specifically on African 'models'. These male photographers produced copious volumes of postcards of Africa with a significant number of women's portraits. Portraits are defined here as the representation of an individual or group that reflect their identity or social status in a specific context over time. Portrait photography is also a negotiation between the sitter or sitters and the cameraman; however, in the case of these African women, the author argues that their objectification and commercialization into stereotypes have consequences that are relevant in contemporary times. Bibliogr., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]