1st Edition

Photography and History in Colonial Southern Africa Shades of Empire

By Lorena Rizzo Copyright 2020
    304 Pages 61 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    302 Pages 61 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book studies the relationship between photography and history in colonial Southern Africa, using a series of encounters with Southern African photographic archives to reflect on photography as a distinct historical form.

    Through use of private and public archives, images produced by African itinerant photographers, white settlers, and colonial state institutions, this book explores the relationship between photography and history in colonial Southern Africa. Late nineteenth century Cape Colonial prison albums, police photographs from German Southwest Africa, African studio portraits, identity documents, travel permits and passports from the 1920s and 1930s, visual studies of whiteness and blackness authored by settler photographers, South African dompas photographs from the 1950s and 1960s, and aerial photography from the Eastern Cape in the mid-twentieth century are examined to highlight the ways in which photographic images cut across conventional institutional boundaries and complicate rigid distinctions between the private and the public, the political and the aesthetic, the colonial and the vernacular, or the subject and the object. Photography and History in Colonial Southern Africa argues that rather than understanding photographs as a means of preserving and recreating the past in the present, we can value them for how they evoke at once the need for and the limits of historical reconstruction.

    This book will be of interest to students and scholars of colonial history, photographic history, visual media, and African studies.

    1. Assemblage. Photography and Colonial Policing in German South West Africa 1910-1913 

    2. Bodies and Things. Photography and the Person in Southern Africa, 1920s-1960s 

    3. Augenblick. The Moment in Namibian photography, 1930s to 1950s 

    4. Heterotopia. Aerial photography and mapping in the Eastern Cape, 1930s-1960s 

    5. Presence. The Breakwater prison albums, Cape Town 1890s to 1900s 


    Lorena Rizzo is a historian at the University of Basel, Switzerland. She has taught in universities in Switzerland, Germany, Namibia, South Africa and the USA, curated photographic exhibitions, and organised public history projects across Europe and Southern Africa.