Category Archives: Theory

Wallis on Race and Typological Photography

“By supplying an overabundance of information, photography confuses and problematizes its message; it creates what author Roland Barthes calls a “reality effect,” a semblance of realism bound to detail. In nineteenth-century parlance, two technical words gained a certain currency to describe how “reality”was construed: the word daguerreotype was distinguished from the word stereotype. Stereotypes were originally molds for creating multiple copies of printing type; the word, therefore, came to connote generalized replication. The daguerreotype, on the… Continue reading

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Foster on the Primitive

“Historically, the primitive is articulated by the west in deprivative or supplemental terms: as a spectacle of savagery or as a state of grace, as a socius without writing or the Word, history or cultural complexity or as a site… Continue reading

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Enwezor on Africanism

“My curiosity about the origins and literary uses of this carefully observed, and carefully invented, Africanist presence has become an informal study of what I call American Africanism. It is an investigation into the ways in which non-white, African-like (or… Continue reading

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Gilroy on Race, Nationalism and Globalisaiton

“The fact that racism and nationalism are ubiquitous and violent doesn’t mean that race thinking is historically resurgent. They could be happening because the historic codes of race thinking are breaking down. We could read these events as symptoms of… Continue reading

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Enwezor on Simpson, the American Sublime and the Racial Self

“There is in ‘the mythology of madness’ the oft repeated story of radical therapy effect by Phillipe Pinel when he released the madmen and madwomen from their chains in Bicêtre and Salpêtrière hospitals in Paris in 1794. Pinel’s freeing of… Continue reading

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Hall on Culture, Technology and History

“Even if in the past there was a kind of sentiment that culture was a more settled formation, it certainly isn’t any longer. The culture we inhabit, partly technologically, because of satellites and modern communication systems, is breaking the link… Continue reading

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Ricoeur on Plurality, Culture and The Other

“When we discover that there are several cultures instead of just one and consequently at the time when we acknowledge the end of a sort of cultural monopoly, be it illusory or real, we are threatened with the destruction of… Continue reading

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Rice on Secular (Consumerist) Culture

“Unlike Vodou worshippers in Haiti, we in contemporary America acknowledge no deities; we deny a pantheon of supernatural beings who determine our destinies, who have the power to “possess” our bodies or intervene in our lives. In our denial, we… Continue reading

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Solnit on the Desert

“The Holy Land belongs to the chosen people, but they have no talent for staying in it peacefully and are always shifting, struggling, splitting up, being cast out. For them the desert is an ambiguous zone: a place strangers, sinners,… Continue reading

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James on Utopia and the Future

“Yet it is not only the invincible universality of capitalism which is at issue: tirelessly undoing all the social gains made since the inception of the socialist and communist movements, repealing all the welfare measures, the safety net, the right… Continue reading

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