Portrait and Place: Photography in Senegal, 1840–1960

Portrait and Place: Photography in Senegal, 1840–1960

Princeton University Press
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Giulia Paoletti

A richly illustrated history of photography in one of the epicenters of African modernity

When the daguerreotype first arrived in sub-Saharan Africa in the early nineteenth century, local kingdoms still held power in Senegal and the French presence was limited to trading outposts along the coast. The pioneers of photography in Senegal worked within, across, and beyond the borders of colonial empire, expanding the medium’s possibilities and contributing to a global visual language. Portrait and Place explores these unique encounters, providing an in-depth and nuanced look at the images made at the intersection of Black Atlantic, Islamic, and African cultures.

Giulia Paoletti takes readers on a visual journey from the 1840s, when the oldest-surviving daguerreotype from West Africa was made, to the 1960s, when photography became the most popular medium as Senegal achieved its independence. She discusses some of Africa’s most celebrated modernists, such as Mama Casset, and also offers insights into lesser-known photographers like Oumar Ka and once-anonymous figures such as Macky Kane. Paoletti examines both professional and amateur artists in genres ranging from portraiture to landscape and across media such as glass painting and lithography.

Featuring a wealth of breathtaking images published here for the first time, Portrait and Place brings to life the important histories of photography on the African continent.

Giulia Paoletti is assistant professor of art history at the University of Virginia. She is the coeditor of The Expanded Subject: New Perspectives in Photographic Portraiture from Africa.

240 pages
57 colour, 73 b/w
25.4 x 19.1 cm
Published 03/05/2024 by Princeton University Press