Race, Representation & Photography in 19th-Century Memphis: from Slavery to Jim Crow presents a rich interpretation of African American visual culture. Using Victorian era photographs, engravings, and pictorial illustrations from local and national archives, this unique study examines intersections of race and image within the context of early African American communities. It emphasizes black agency, looking at how African Americans in Memphis manipulated the power of photography in the creation of free identities. Blacks are at the center of a study that brings to light how wide-ranging practices of photography were linked to racialized experiences in the American south following the Civil War. Jenkins' book connects the social history of photography with the fields of visual culture, art history, southern studies, gender, and critical race studies.
'Jenkins’s text presents a meticulously researched account of Memphis in the nineteenth century and draws our attention to many previously overlooked threads in its local history, including urban slavery, contraband camps, charitable networks, church communities, entrepreneurship, and women’s work in and outside the home. While the book covers an enormous number of themes, her strict focus on a single city during one century makes the text cohesive and manageable.'
'Race, Representation & Photography in 19th-Century Memphis is an exemplary tour de force consisting of breathtaking scholarship and compelling and exceptional research, as well as brilliant archival excavation and investigation.'
--Celeste-Marie Bernier, Nottingham University, UK
'Earnestine Jenkins's extraordinarily rich and unique visual study of nineteenth-century Memphis makes an invaluable contribution to the history of African Americans in slavery and freedom. Race, Representation & Photography in 19th-Century Memphis is richly textured and illuminates the multi-layered efforts of black people to create new representations of themselves, their families and institutions, and enables us to better comprehend their strivings. She brilliantly and persuasively argues that the material culture and documents produced by an array of black community photographers laid the foundation for what would become the "New Negro" movement in the early twentieth century. We are indebted to Jenkins for the prodigious research, insightful and persuasive analysis, and the amazing diversity of images that make Race, Representation & Photography in 19th-Century Memphis so uniquely important and a must-read.'
--Darlene Clark Hine, Northwestern University, USA and co-editor of The Black Chicago Renaissance
Table of Contents to come.