Unfixed: Photography and Decolonial Imagination in West Africa
Jennifer Bajorek is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Visual Studies at Hampshire College and Research Associate in the VIAD Research Centre, in the Faculty of Art, Design, and Architecture at the University of Johannesburg. She is also author of Counterfeit Capital: Poetic Labor and Revolutionary Irony.
In Unfixed Jennifer Bajorek traces the relationship between photography and decolonial political imagination in Francophone west Africa in the years immediately leading up to and following independence from French colonial rule in 1960. Focusing on images created by photographers based in Senegal and Benin, Bajorek draws on formal analyses of images and ethnographic fieldwork with photographers to show how photography not only reflected but also actively contributed to social and political change. The proliferation of photographic imagery—through studio portraiture, bureaucratic ID cards, political reportage and photojournalism, magazines, and more—provided the means for west Africans to express their experiences, shape public and political discourse, and reimagine their world. In delineating how west Africans' embrace of photography was associated with and helped spur the democratization of political participation and the development of labor and liberation movements, Bajorek tells a new history of photography in west Africa—one that theorizes photography's capacity for doing decolonial work.
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