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Empires of the Visual - public visual economies in Southern Africa and the genesis of African modernities


"The project aims to explore and synthesize the history of modern public visual production and consumption in Southern Africa. It is based on the assumption that the varied Southern African visual economies are framed and patterned by a South African claim to hegemonic control of visual production and communication. As in many other realms of society the country's imperial outreach on its neighbors remains very tangible up to date. Hence the project focuses on what has recently been termed the South African empire, an imperial formation including South Africa as the metropole and Namibia and Mozambique as its main peripheries. While the genesis of these relations of power, the discursive interdependencies, and South Africa’s attempt to homogenize visual culture form the point of departure of this project, the various subaltern voices and dynamics that counter the hegemonic claim are also considered. The project will hence engage in an inquiry of the complex history of entangled visual economies throughout an enormous geographical and socio-political space, which is Southern Africa. Three particular domains of visual production will help to illustrate this point: landscape design, poster histories and struggle photography, all of which allow the consideration of various sites and spaces of visual representation and communication in the public domain, and of different agents who become active within the visual cultures the project is concerned with. Methodologically the research is based on archival studies including known and hidden archives, on reception studies with focus groups in the three countries, as well as on the synthesis of various existing case studies and literature."

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Petersplatz 1
4051 Basel

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Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera Nordwestschweiz Basel-Stadt
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Veit Anselm Ludwig Arlt (Dr.)
EU contribution
No data