Drew Thompson, Associate Professor of Visual Culture and Black Studies at the Bard Graduate Center, will present the talk "Filtering Histories: The Photographic Bureaucracy in Mozambique, 1960 to Recent Times" as a part of the lecture series, “Charting the Portuguese Black Atlantic" at New York University.
By 1960, Portugal governed Mozambique as a colonial state and faced looming anti-colonial wars in Angola and Goa. By 1963, the liberation movement Frente da Libertação de Moçambique (Frelimo) organized itself in exile and launched a war for Mozambique’s independence. Long before these political developments, a range of historical actors, other than the state, used photographs to tremendous effect. In response, the colonial state developed bureaucratic infrastructures related to its military, press, and diplomatic operations. These different departments deployed distinct aesthetic criteria to specific administrative ends. At independence, Frelimo brought to power its own photographic archive and practice philosophies, both shaped by the experience of guerrilla war. This presentation rehearses some of the major arguments from my recent monograph about how photographs come to inhabit bureaucratic structures at different points in time and how state and non-state actors put photography to varied use. By focusing on aesthetic practice, I aim to trouble narratives of colonial and anti-colonial struggle and to deepen our understanding of state development after colonial rule.
Drew Thompson is Associate Professor of Visual Culture and Black Studies at the Bard Graduate Center. He teaches and writes on the history of photography and modern and contemporary arts of Africa and the Black Diaspora.