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Art African

Portraiture and Photography in Africa

edited by John Peffer & Elisabeth L. Cameron

contributions by Raoul Birnbaum, Jürg Schneider, Erin Haney, Erika Nimis, Z.S. Strother, Christraud M. Geary, Isolde Brielmaer, Liam Buckley, Jean Borgatti, Rowland O. Abiodun, Candace M. Keller & Till Förster

Indiana University Press
Initial publish date
Jul 2013
African, History
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2013
    List Price

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Beautifully illustrated, Portrait Photography in Africa offers new interpretations of the cultural and historical roles of photography in Africa. Twelve leading scholars look at early photographs, important photographers' studios, the uses of portraiture in the 19th century, and the current passion for portraits in Africa. They review a variety of topics, including what defines a common culture of photography, the social and political implications of changing technologies for portraiture, and the lasting effects of culture on the idea of the person depicted in the photographic image.

About the authors

Contributor Notes

Elisabeth L. Cameron is Associate Professor and the Patricia and Rowland Rebele Endowed Chair in the History of Art and Visual Culture, Department of the History of Art and Visual Culture, University of California, Santa Cruz.

John Peffer is Associate Professor of Art History at Ramapo College.

Editorial Reviews

The editors have brought together an excellent group of scholars . . . Portraiture and Photography is richly illustrated, and the images are each clearly labeled. . . . Portraiture and Photography . . . gather[s] together top-notch authors to reflect on and challenge received knowledge about colonial photographic archives, and to push scholarship in the field of portraiture photography in Africa in new and exciting directions. [It] provide[s] intellectual stimulus through new insights, new data, and new voices.

CAA Reviews

The analyses bring on-the-ground and archival research to bear on the understanding of photography within its cultural and political context in historical and contemporary Africa. Each essay is well illustrated and provides extensive citations. Upper-level students of visual culture and anthropology have model examples of scholarship in these papers.


John Peffer and Elisabeth Cameron's volume, Portraiture and Photography in Africa, includes articles that probe the premise that photographs can represent Africa and its populations not as victims but instead as agents of change. 57.3 Dec 2014

African Studies Review

This is a substantial volume . . . one which richly deserves to be widely read, and not just by those interested in forms of visual expression in Africa or in the history of photography. It is also highly relevant to those concerned with cross-cultural artistic expression, with the presentation of selves and the puncturing of enduring postcolonial myths of superiority . . . Indiana University Press is to be praised for producing a reasonably priced volume with high production values.

Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford

Comprising twelve chapters and a significantly promising introduction, Portraiture and Photography in Africa is an indispensable addition to the scholarship on the histories of the medium. Offering a compilation of essays that build on foundational studies of Africanists like Stephen Sprague, Tobias Wendl, and others, this well-illustrated and remarkably affordable text provokingly explores the production of photographic images, their mobility across time, place, and medium, and their various receptions throughout West, Central, and East Africa.

African Arts

This valuable edited collection features essays by seasoned scholars who are professors, curators, and research associates concerned with photography's role in East and West Africa. . . . Recommended.


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