Portraiture and Photography in Africa

Portraiture and Photography in Africa

Edited by John M Peffer and Elisabeth Lynn Cameron
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 07/24/2013
Format: Paperback 151 color illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-00860-2
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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.

Author Bio

Elisabeth L. Cameron is Associate Professor and the Patricia and Rowland Rebele Endowed Chair in the History of Art and Visual Culture, Department of the History of Art and Visual Culture, University of California, Santa Cruz.

John Peffer is Associate Professor of Art History at Ramapo College.


“The field of African photography has grown exponentially in recent years. Readers who think they already know a lot about either portraiture or photography will be pleasantly surprised to discover how much more there is to learn about them both.”
 — Martha Anderson, Alfred University

“A timely contribution to the rapidly expanding field of African photography that offers a variety of innovative perspectives on African photographic portraiture by leading voices in the field as well as newcomers to it.”
 — Lisa Aronson, Skidmore College

“This beautifully illustrated work provides new interpretations of the cultural and historical roles of photography in Africa.”

“Comprising twelve chapters and a significantly promising introduction, Portraiture and Photography in Africa is an indispensable addition to the scholarship on the histories of the medium. Offering a compilation of essays that build on foundational studies of Africanists like Stephen Sprague, Tobias Wendl, and others, this well-illustrated and remarkably affordable text provokingly explores the production of photographic images, their mobility across time, place, and medium, and their various receptions throughout West, Central, and East Africa.”
 — African Arts

“John Peffer and Elisabeth Cameron’s volume, Portraiture and Photography in Africa, includes articles that probe the premise that photographs can represent Africa and its populations not as victims but instead as agents of change. 57.3 Dec 2014”
 — African Studies Review

“The analyses bring on-the-ground and archival research to bear on the understanding of photography within its cultural and political context in historical and contemporary Africa. Each essay is well illustrated and provides extensive citations. Upper-level students of visual culture and anthropology have model examples of scholarship in these papers.”

“This valuable edited collection features essays by seasoned scholars who are professors, curators, and research associates concerned with photography's role in East and West Africa. . . . Recommended.”
 — Choice

“The editors have brought together an excellent group of scholars . . . Portraiture and Photography is richly illustrated, and the images are each clearly labeled. . . . Portraiture and Photography . . . gather[s] together top-notch authors to reflect on and challenge received knowledge about colonial photographic archives, and to push scholarship in the field of portraiture photography in Africa in new and exciting directions. [It] provide[s] intellectual stimulus through new insights, new data, and new voices. ”
 — CAA Reviews

“This is a substantial volume . . . one which richly deserves to be widely read, and not just by those interested in forms of visual expression in Africa or in the history of photography. It is also highly relevant to those concerned with cross-cultural artistic expression, with the presentation of selves and the puncturing of enduring postcolonial myths of superiority . . . Indiana University Press is to be praised for producing a reasonably priced volume with high production values.”
 — Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford

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Table of Contents

Foreword \ Raoul Birnbaum

Introduction: The Study of Photographic Portraiture in Africa \ John Peffer

Part 1. Exchange
1. Portrait Photography: A Visual Currency in the Atlantic Visualscape \ Jürg Schneider
2. Lutterodt Family Studios and the Changing Face of Early Portrait Photographs from the Gold Coast \ Erin Haney
3. Yoruba Studio Photographers in Francophone West Africa \ Érika Nimis
4. The Fieldworker and the Portrait: The Social Relations of Photography \ Elisabeth L. Cameron

Part 2. Social Lives
5. "A Photograph Steals the Soul": The History of an Idea \ Z. S. Strother
6. The Past in the Present: Photographic Portraiture and the Evocation of Multiple Histories in the Bamum Kingdom of Cameroon \ Christraud M. Geary
7. Mombasa on Display: Photography and the Formation of an Urban Public, from the 1940s Onward \ Isolde Brielmaier
8. Portrait Photography in a Postcolonial Age: How Beauty Tells the Truth \ Liam Buckley

Part 3. Traditions
9. Likeness or Not: Musings on Portraiture in Canonical African Art and Its Implications for African Portrait Photography \ Jean Borgatti
10. Ako-graphy: Owo Portraits \ Rowland Abiodun
11. Visual Griots: Identity, Aesthetics, and the Social Roles of Portrait Photographers in Mali \ Candace M. Keller
12. The Intermediality of Portraiture in Northern Côte d'Ivoire \ Till Förster


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