Accepted paper:

Affective publics: Photographs in Nigerian newspapers in the late 1940s and 1950s


Rouven Kunstmann (University of London, London Business School )

Paper short abstract:

Addressing the genre of portrait photography in daily published Nigerian newspapers, this paper discusses bifurcation between perceived moral disruptions and self-fashioning as mechanisms of affective connections.

Paper long abstract:

This paper discusses the affections associated with photographs published in Nigerian newspaper in the 1940s and 1950s which readers discussed frequently. These discussions demonstrate how publics became emotionalised about photographs and how conventions of morally acceptable depictions changed. As such, photographs 'moved' and created affective connections with readers. From the 1940s onwards, Nigerian newspapers printed photographs, especially portrait and campaign photographs, regularly. While some newspapers, such as the West African Pilot, advocated anticolonial nationalism, the controversies about photographs illuminate the dynamics of spaces beyond the colonial versus anticolonial paradigm. The focus on the affective connections of the genre of portrait photography also reveals bifurcation between self-fashioning and discussions about acceptable moral behaviour. In addition, the materiality of the photographs was subject to global processes of circulation which affected the perceived meaning of the photographs. By addressing the relationship between affective connections and perceptions of disruptions caused by printing photographs, this paper provides a historical analytical contribution to contemporary debates, reaching beyond the nexus between materiality (Edwards 2012) and archives (Morton & Newbury 2015).

panel Anth53
Photographs as objects of affective connection and disruption