Unisa Press

Defiant Images

Photography and Apartheid South Africa

Author: Darren Newbury
Published: November 11, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-86888-523-7
Number of pages: 365
Prices: R 288.51 | $ 25 | £ 19 | € 21
This book is not available in electronic format

About the book

‘This book is much more than just a discourse on photography in the land of apartheid. And it goes well beyond sophisticated debate on the artistic merits of images. While keeping the lens trained on the evolution of photography it plunges the reader into a sharp and evocative sociocultural history of a country in deep conflict.’ – Albie Sachs

Photography is often believed to ‘witness’ history or ‘reflect’ society, but such perspectives fail to account for the complex ways in which photographs are made and seen, and the variety of motivations and social and political factors that shape the vision of the world that photographs provide. This book develops a critical historical method for engaging with photographs of South Africa during the Apartheid period.

The author looks closely at the photographs in their original contexts and their relationship to the politics of the time, listens to the voices of the photographers to try and understand how they viewed the work they were doing, and examines the place of photography in a post-Apartheid era.

Table of content


1 An African Pageant: Between Native Studies and Social Documentary 

2 ‘A Fine Thing’: The African Drum 

3 ‘Johannesburg Lunch-hour’: Photographic Humanism and the Social Vision of Drum  

4 An ‘Unalterable Blackness’: Ernest Cole’s House of Bondage 

5 An Aesthetic of Fists and Flags: Struggle Photography  

6 ‘Lest We Forget’: Photography and the Presentation of History in the Post-apartheid Museum


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