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Title: Decolonizing the camera : photography in racial time
Author: Sealy, Mark Anthony
ISNI:       0000 0004 5993 8933
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis argues that photography is tainted with ingrained racist ideologies that have been present since its earliest inception in 1839. It considers the act of photographing the Other as a site of Western violence, myth, fantasy and disavowal. It examines archival images through the prism of race, representation and human rights with the aim of extracting new meanings that bring the Other into focus. This is done by reading the images both against the politics of the time in which they were made and as contemporary objects at work in the political and cultural present. The thesis makes the case that photography is burdened with ideological fault-lines concerning race and rights. The fault-lines have been forged by cultural and colonial violence resulting in Western scopic regimes that have dominated and fixed the Other within an inescapable set of Western epistemologies that have been used to serve and enhance imperial perspectives on race. I argue that these perspectives are still active within the Western mindset manifest as benign acts of photographic empathy that work to ultimately bolster Western hegemonies and economies. This thesis is based on 25 years of experience as a researcher and curator of international photography exhibitions, direct research into archives in different continental settings, the presentation of papers in a variety of national and international contexts, and interviews with photographers, curators and academics. My hypothesis is that the history of photography can only be complete if the voice of the subaltern is made critically present within it, so allowing us to engage with important political racial memory work that can help us re-read the past and reconfigure different meanings concerning history, race, rights and human recognition in the present. I argue that photography requires decolonising work to be carried out on its history. I propose that if we do not recognise the historical and political conjunctures of racial politics at work within photography and the effects on those that have been culturally erased, made invisible or less than human by such images, then we remain hemmed within established orthodoxies of colonial thought concerning the racialised body, the subaltern and the politics of human recognition.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available