Digital Visual Activism: Photography and the Re-Opening of the Unresolved Truth and Reconciliation Commission Cases in Post-Apartheid South Africa
This article explores the creation and curation of digital photographic heritage relating to the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa as a political project and examines the importance of the online circulation of historical photographs from private collections for public engagement with the re-opening of unresolved judicial cases concerning activists who were detained, tortured and murdered during apartheid. Focusing on the advocacy and commemoration practices relating to the re-opening of the inquest into the death of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol, who was killed by the South African Security Police in October 1971, the article demonstrates that the curation of photographs included on the website relating to his life and murder can be understood as digital photographic heritage in formation. The article considers how the photographs constitute a form of virtual posthumous personhood and argues that Timol’s digital afterlife moves beyond commemoration and contributes to the ongoing struggle for justice in South Africa in the aftermath of apartheid.
History of Photography in Apartheid South Africa
This article, published in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History, provides a detailed overview of the history of photography in the country from 1948 to 1994.
Resistance, Rage and Sorrow in Alf Kumalo's photographs of Soweto, June 16th 1976
Alf Kumalo, widely regarded as one of South Africa’s most important photographers, chronicled more than fifty years of the country’s turbulent history. Kumalo lived much of his life in Soweto, and in 1976, when students rose up against apartheid, he was there to document their defiance, as well as the lethal response of the South African Police Force. This article focuses on a selection of photographs from the Photography Legacy Project Alf Kumalo archive.
Disappearances in Apartheid South Africa
NIOD Rewind Podcast
Anne van Mourik and Thijs Bouwknegt interview historian Kylie Thomas and journalist Michael Schmidt, discussing forced disappearances under Apartheid South Africa.
Women and Photography in Africa: Creative Practices and Feminist Challenges
This collection explores women’s multifaceted historical and contemporary involvement in photography in Africa.
The book offers new ways of thinking about the history of photography, exploring through case studies the complex and historically specific articulations of gender and photography on the continent, and attending to the challenge and potential of contemporary feminist and postcolonial engagements with the medium. The volume is organised in thematic sections that present the lives and work of historically significant yet overlooked women and nonbinary photographers, as well as the work of acclaimed contemporary African women photographers such as Héla Ammar, Fatoumata Diabaté, Lebohang Kganye and Zanele Muholi. The book offers critical reflections on the politics of gendered knowledge production and the production of racialised and gendered identities and alternative and subaltern subjectivities. Several chapters illuminate how contemporary African women and nonbinary photographers, collectors and curators are engaging with colonial photographic archives to contest stereotypical forms of representation and produce powerful counter-histories.
Raising critical questions about race, gender and the history of photography, the collection provides a model for interdisciplinary feminist approaches for scholars and students of art history, visual studies and African history.
'Bitter Emotion’: photography and transnational solidarity in Ireland and South Africa
Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 2020
In his book about his Irish–South African family and his childhood under apartheid, White Boy Running, Christopher Hope writes of the “bitter emotion” that infuses the politics of both Ireland and South Africa. This essay considers how the histories of political struggle in both places are intertwined through readings of photographs taken in Ireland and South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s. I draw on these photographs to develop an argument about how affective archives of music, images, and poetry travel across time and space and serve as a conduit for raising awareness about injustice and for forging transnational solidarity. At the same time, these photographs provoke a consideration about how Irish identification with the struggle of black South Africans is complicated by the longer history of British colonialism and racism and how solidarity requires both remembering and forgetting. This essay also begins to trace the presence and work of South African activists in Ireland who campaigned against apartheid while they were in exile.
Glimpses into the history of street photography in South Africa
In 1937, Anne Fischer, a young Jewish refugee, fled Nazi persecution and travelled via Palestine, Italy, Greece and England to South Africa. There she established herself as a photographer.
She set up a portrait studio on Adderley Street in central Cape Town and, by the 1960s, had become the portrait photographer of choice for wealthy families in the city. In addition to documenting celebrations, weddings and the arrival of new babies, Fischer served as the official photographer for several theatre companies. She also produced a large number of images outside of her studio. These were taken in the streets of Cape Town, in Langa township, in the vibrant multi-racial neighbourhood of District Six, which the apartheid state declared a “whites-only” area in 1966, forcing 60,000 people from their homes, and on her travels around the country.
Fischer’s image of a photographer at work outdoors in Cape Town in the 1940s is unusual because it captures both the making of a portrait and the social world that swirls around the sitters that studio portraits so often conceal from view.