Visual cultures and the photographic archive in Indian Ocean Africa: reflections from Capital Art Studio, Zanzibar - 2
(University of Cape Town)
Paper short abstract:
Following Dr Gupta's overviewing of the archive under analysis, this paper will tease out some of the key questions with which we approached the visual archive compiled by the Ozas from 1930 to the present, with emphasis on how it frames and circulates Zanzibar before and after the bipolar world order.
Paper long abstract:
Following on from the presentation by Dr Pamila Gupta, which presents the rationale for this project and provides an overview of the archive under analysis, this paper will tease out some of the key questions with which we approached this visual archive of the Ozas: How is Zanzibar framed therein? What kinds of affiliations and aspirations can be read from private studio portraits and the framing of public life? How much does the act of having one's photo taken restore an embodied emotion of elegance (Buckley)? What images circulate, stagnate or 'flash up' in particular historical moments and within particular circuits (Benjamin)? We are particularly interested in reading the ways in which this archive enables us to chart shifts and continuities and elicits nostalgic retrievals of and/or melancholic ambivalence toward the past. In the process, we hope to arrive at new insights in relation to Zanzibar's much vaunted cosmopolitanism, its fractured and fractious histories, including its fraught relation with its Indian Ocean forelands and African hinterlands and particularly the historical memory of its illustrious past as terminus of the dhow trade.
Africa in the Indian Ocean