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Photography And Identity


We have been exploring the relationship between photography and the construction of identity in Mali and Ghana during the latter half of the 20th century. Who/what do you think shapes the process of creating identity? Does one factor play a more significant role than the rest in constructing identity? Consider how the process of identity construction is reflected in the photographic process during this time and in these places. Think about the aspects of the photographic process (i.e., preparation, shooting, presentation, viewing, and disseminating) and the various people involved (i.e., photographer, subject, and viewers). Discuss these issues through an analysis of specific photographers and photographs.

To respond to the prompt successfully, your paper must include a thesis statement (argument) that responds to the questions, and must discuss two photographers and their photographs. One of the photographers must be from Mali, and one must be from Ghana. Moreover, you must discuss one specific photograph for each photographer (at least two photographs in total). You must include images of these photographs, but they will not count towards the paper count. If you wish to use a photograph that is in one of the short films/videos. you can take a screenshot of the image or find it on the internet. Images should be the last page of your paper 

Furthermore, successful papers will utilize evidence from a combination of at least two of the source materials: readings, short films/videos(titles and links below). If you use readings and short films/videos, you must cite them using footnotes. In your discussion, you might consider:

  • The process of photographing subjects
  • The interviews with photographers
  • The marketing practices of photographers
  • The interactions between photographers and subjects
  • The desires and requests expressed by subjects 
  • The dress and accessories of subjects
  • The incorporation of light, backdrops, and props
  • Framing and composition of the photographs
  • Cultural and historical contexts of Mali and Ghana

Titles and Links of Short Videos/Films:

Bridgitte Cornand’s “Seydou Keita, Photographer” (1998):

Tobias Wendl and Nancy du Plessis’s”Future Remembrance: Photography and Image Arts in Ghana” (1998):