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Visual Aperture - Bureaucratic Systems of Identification, Photography and Personhood in Colonial Southern Africa

Rizzo, Lorena. (2013) Visual Aperture - Bureaucratic Systems of Identification, Photography and Personhood in Colonial Southern Africa. History of Photography, 37 (3). pp. 263-282.

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Abstract

This essay is concerned with photographs produced in the context of applying for and issuing passports, permits, passes and identity certificates in Southern Africa in the 1920s and 1930s. On the one hand, it explores photography as part of a history of a modern state practice in order to shed light on the technologies used to regulate mobility and assess the place of citizens and subjects. On the other hand, the essay shows how men and women applying for identity and travel documents used portrait photography as a genre and means to challenge discriminating notions of nationality and citizenship enforced by the segregationist state. Instead of interpreting the photographs as signature images of processes of identity formation and identification, the argument developed here aims at sketching the place of visuality within contested regimes of personhood. The essay argues that within the bureaucratic practices considered, two distinct indexical registers emerged that regulated the ways in which colonial citizens and subjects came into view: photography and fingerprinting. But while the general argument accounts for the alignment of photography with the instrumental power of the state apparatus, the close-up engagement in the photographs uncovers the possibilities for counter-narratives and alternative subjectivities.
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Geschichte
04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Geschichte > Bereich Geschichte Afrikas
UniBasel Contributors:Rizzo, Lorena
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Routledge
ISSN:0308-7298
e-ISSN:2150-7295
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Language:English
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Last Modified:15 Sep 2020 08:47
Deposited On:15 Sep 2020 08:47

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