Call for papers

Symposium – Photographs Beyond Ruins: Women and Photography in Africa

Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, United Kingdom
Deadline: 17 March 2017

Symposium – Photographs Beyond Ruins: Women and Photography in Africa

A one-day symposium at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London on Friday 14 July 2017

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. The exhibition centres on three private collections of historic photographs preserved and curated by four women residents of the former ‘Old Location’ in Usakos, an urban railway hub in central Namibia.


On the one hand, papers are invited that cover 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. We are particularly interested in the themes of historic collections and memory work, but will also consider papers looking at women’s engagement with photographic practice today.

On the other hand, the conference will reflect on how far female photographic practices constituted a domain in which women represented, commented on, responded to and made sense of their experiences of the transformations brought about by colonialism and apartheid. We invite papers which reflect on how women’s photographic and other archival and memory-work practices help to illuminate the specific histories of life under segregation, apartheid and colonialism more broadly – whether (for example) of urban planning, forced removals, housing, the railway system, migrant and domestic labour, cosmopolitanism, education and cultural life.

It is expected that the majority of papers will focus on the African continent, but proposals dealing with similar issues in the diasporic context are also welcome .

The conference will be of relevance to academics and researchers in these fields as well as practitioners and a more general audience with an interest in Namibia and/or in African history and photography. Contributors are asked to bear this in mind when drafting their presentations.

The one-day conference will take place on Friday 14th July 2017 in the Senate Room, Senate House, University of London.

More details and registration arrangements will be available shortly after the close of the call for papers. Unfortunately the symposium organisers are unable to assist with travel and accommodation costs.

Please send abstracts (300 words max.) and your name, title, affiliation (where appropriate) and contact details to:

Dr Giorgio Miescher, University of Basel,

and Dr Marion Wallace,

Dealine: 17 March 2017

Find the call for papers here

For more information on the Usakos photographs see



All content © 2024 Contemporary And. All Rights Reserved. Website by SHIFT