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Grant number: FB-57856-14

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FB-57856-14

John Matthew Peffer
Ramapo College of New Jersey (Mahwah, NJ 07430-1623)

Popular Photography and the Survival of Traumatic History in South Africa

I am writing a book on how popular photography helped people survive violence and political marginalization during apartheid. My research is grounded in an interview-based study of the private uses of photographs seen in black township homes in South Africa during the apartheid era (1948-1994). As families were uprooted by apartheid, forms of self-imaging such as studio portraits and snapshots became increasingly common in the townships. In counterpoint to the more familiar ID pictures and documentary photographs that have defined the image of apartheid overseas, my book explains the original contexts and aesthetics of township photographs made for the sitter's pleasure and explores their use today as a source for alternative histories of experience. My analysis engages local concepts for likeness, commemoration, and imagination that animate these images, and I explore how this photography is entangled with and distinguished from earlier American and European prototypes.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
African History; Art History and Criticism; History, Criticism, and Theory of the Arts

Program:
Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2014 – 12/31/2014