Photographs Beyond Ruins: Women and Photography in Africa

Photographs Beyond Ruins: Women and Photography in Africa
14 July 2017, 10.00am - 5.00pm
Conference / Symposium
The Senate Room, First Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU


This symposium brings together scholars and practitioners working on photography, women and gender in a wide range of African contexts – North, Southern, West and East, as well as the diaspora. Contributors will speak on both contemporary and historical themes.

This symposium marks the opening of ‘Usakos – Photographs Beyond Ruins: The Old Location Albums, 1920s-1960s’, an exhibition at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, University of London. Centred on private collections of historic photographs created by four women residents of Usakos, Namibia, the exhibition sheds new light on southern African histories. It moves us beyond the dominant narrative of life under apartheid, and creates space for a focus on sociality and social relations. The women curating these images have used them to negotiate their own past and its implications for the present and future.

This conference takes the lead offered by this new research to focus on African women and photography. The themes of the conference include aspects of photographic practices defined in the broadest sense: African women as clients, as photographers, as photographic subjects and as collectors and curators of photographs and private photographic archives; women engaged in aesthetic practices that bridge conventional distinctions such as that between the visual and the oral; and women’s role in memory work – whether through purely photographic collections, or other private collections that include photographs, letters, identity documents, moving image, objects and other manifestations of material culture.

The conference will also reflect on how far female photographic practices constituted a domain in which women represented, commented on, responded to and made sense of their experiences in a historical context, for example under colonialism and apartheid.

The conference will be of interest to academics and researchers in these fields, as well as practitioners and anyone with an interest in African history and photography. 

Click here to view programme

Sponsored by the Centre for African Studies, University of Basel and the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London

With support from Centre of African Studies at SOAS, University of London, College of Arts and Humanities, University of Brighton, Hutchins Center, Harvard University


Olga Jimenez
020 7862 8871