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Department of the History of Art and Archaeology

Photography and the Image in Africa; and other Regional Perspectives

Course Code:
Course Not Running 2015/16
Unit value:

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

This course adopts a thematic approach to the study of photography and the discourses that underpin its practice. Photography is categorised as still, moving and digital photography. African traditions of photography are the principal focus but case studies from Asia, Oceania and Europe are also deployed in order to evaluate different modes of theorising of photography. This provides critical purchase for students on the seemingly hegemonic status of Euramerican discourses on photography. The course will also consider the production, distribution and consumption of photography and alternative models for theorising these processes.

Scope and syllabus

Core thematic issues:

  • The relationship between the photographic image and its referents.
  • Documenting the social: the relations between the image and ideology/or discourse and the making of hegemonies and resistance
  • Localised histories of photographic ideas and practice of African (and Asian) photographers
  • The materiality of the photographic artefact
  • Mass replication of the photographic image with its dispersal and display


This course will appeal to students studying other areas of Asian and African art and archaeology with an interest in contemporary art, visual culture and mass media, and students of African cultures and anthropology.

Method of assessment

3 essays of 3,000 words each = 75%/ visual image examination = 25%

Suggested reading

  • Sontag, S., On Photography, Penguin, 1978
  • Mirzoeff, Introduction to Visual Culture, Routledge, 1999
  • Edwards, E., and Hant, J., Photographs, Objects, Histories, Routledge,
  • Geary, C, and Webb, V., Delivering Views: Distant cultures in Early
    Postcards, Smithsonian, 1998
  • Njami, S., et al., Anthology of African and Indian Ocean Photography,
    Afrique Revue Noire, 1999
  • Bonetti F., and Schlinkert, Samuel Fosso, 5 Continents: Italy, 2004
  • Pinney, C., The Camera Indica: The Social Life of Photographs, 1997
  • Rousmaniere, N.C., and Hirayama, M., Reflecting Truth: Japanese
    Photography in the 19th Century, Sainsbury Institute and Hotei Publishing,