African photography has emerged as a significant focus of research and scholarship over the last twenty years, the result of a growing interest in postcolonial societies and cultures and a turn towards visual evidence across the humanities and social sciences. At the same time, many rich and fascinating photographic collections have come to light. This volume explores the complex theoretical and practical issues involved in the study of African photographic archives, based on case studies drawn from across the continent dating from the 19th century to the present day. Chapters consider what constitutes an archive, from the familiar mission and state archives to more local, vernacular and personal accumulations of photographs; the importance of a critical and reflexive engagement with photographic collections; and the question of where and what is ‘Africa’, as constructed in the photographic archive. Essential reading for all researchers working with photographic archives, this book consolidates current thinking on the topic and sets the agenda for future research in this field.
"As a whole, The African Photographic Archive addresses many of the methodological, conceptual and analytical concerns that have become salient in studies of African photography in the recent past … The African Photographic Archive opens up fruitful perspectives for future studies of African photography, and the book undoubtedly will be a rich fundus to students, curators, archivists and scholars of photography. - History of Photography This is a culturally relevant choice, reflecting the many ways that local communities collect and interact with photographs … which will lead scholars down new avenues in their research, whether or not their focus is specific to Africa. - Art Libraries Society of North America - Robin Potter, University of New Mexico, USA This exciting collection treats photographic images and archives as messages offered to an unknown future. Traces of past events become revelatory in the hands of these stellar contributors. This is a book that should be read by everyone interested in the potential of new practices of visual history. - Christopher Pinney, Professor of Anthropology and Visual Culture at University College London, UK This is a timely and ground-breaking collection of essays that focusses on the construction of the African photographic archive as a contested, critical site of collection, reflection and re-invention. In eleven distinctive and finely-honed studies, the archive is stretched and extended – both geographically and theoretically – so that it ranges from the vernacular to the official, the ephemeral to the artistic, while opening up to question the very terms that it puts into place. - Tamar Garb, Durning Lawrence Professor in the History of Art at University College London, UK This excellent book is for those who want to be there, for those “who care for” the images they study and the social relationships implied. - Anthropos"