The Self in Black and White: Race and Subjectivity in Postwar American Photography (Interfaces: Studies in Visual Culture)

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9781584658023: The Self in Black and White: Race and Subjectivity in Postwar American Photography (Interfaces: Studies in Visual Culture)
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The Self in Black and White is a fascinating and original study of the ways in which notions about race and the self were formed, perpetuated, and contested in American photography during the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s, with an emphasis on images of the civil rights movement and the War on Poverty. Author Erina Duganne opens with a discussion of the Kamoinge Workshop, an African American photographers’ collective from the 1960s. She goes on to discuss the 1965 government-sponsored photography exhibition “Profile of Poverty” which sought to stir up emotional support for the War on Poverty via “documentary” images of poverty and race. She analyzes the complex interconnections of race and artistic subjectivity through a comparison of the careers of Bruce Davidson, who was often praised for the artistic merit of his civil rights images, and Roy DeCarava, who was singled out for the “authenticity” of his Harlem photographs. The Self in Black and White is a compelling interdisciplinary consideration of the eye behind the camera and the formative power it wields.

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About the Author:

ERINA DUGANNE is assistant professor of art history at Texas State University, San Marcos.

Review:

“Erina Duganne brilliantly illuminates mutually constructed and intersubjective representations of race as it was - or seemed to be - embodied by black subjects in post-WWII documentary work by African American and European American photographers. This is a vivid, vital and exciting book, that opens new avenues for scholarship.” (Laura Wexler, author of Tender Violence: Domestic Visions in an Age of U.S. Imperialism, Professor of American Studies and Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies,Yale University)

“In this perceptive and well-argued book, Erina Duganne offers a refreshing take on the politics of race, both cultural and personal, in American photography after World War II. With clarity and grace, it helps us to see the complex social motivations, anxieties, and biases that lie below the surface of seemingly straightforward images.” (Maurice Berger, Senior Research Scholar, University of Maryland, Baltimore County)

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