The Violence of Colonial Photography
By Daniel Foliard
SHORTLISTED FOR THE BRITISH ACADEMY BOOK PRIZE FOR GLOBAL CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING 2023
The late nineteenth century witnessed a rapid increase in colonial conflicts throughout the French and British empires. It was also the period in which the first mass-produced cameras became available. Colonial authorities were quick to recognise the power of this new technology, which they used to humiliate defeated opponents and project an image of supremacy across the world.Drawing on a wealth of visual materials, from soldiers’ personal albums to the collections of press agencies and government archives, The violence of colonial photography offers a new account of how conflict photography developed in the decades before the First World War. It explores the ways the camera was used to impose order on subject populations in Africa and Asia and to generate propaganda for the public in Europe, where a visual economy of violence was rapidly taking shape.
At the same time, the book reveals how photographs could escape the intentions of their creators, offering a means for colonial subjects to push back against oppression. — .Tweet