Aesthetics from the Margins: Photography in Africa and the Poetics of Un/Making the World

Aesthetics from the Margins explores social and cultural ways of world-making in the colony and postcolony. The project proceeds on the assumption that while “the world” is economically and politically produced it nevertheless needs to be perceived, sensed, comprehended and made sense of. The world is, in other words, more than a mere reality, fact or given, but the result of continuous making and remaking. The ability to imagine and experience the world and one’s own place within it – individually and collectively – rests upon diverse repertoires of images, signs and symbols, idioms and narratives, media and social practices. We hence need to understand how precisely people make world(s), and how experiencing the world is linked to ideation, knowledge production, subjectivity and consciousness. In the so-called “age of globalisation” and “media society”, and in the context of a growing preoccupation with the world’s complexity and opacity, its political, economic and ecological fragility, the question of world-making is of particular importance to both the humanities and social sciences, and society at large. Studying colonial and postcolonial aesthetics/aesthesis against the backdrop of an ongoing debate on globalization, the media and world-making cannot forebear to speak from a position of marginality: The colony and postcolony are often considered historical and contemporary “recipients” of globalization and modernisation, as opposed to their metropolitan initiators. Against such persistent prejudice and simplification, Aesthetics from the Margins argues that inhabiting marginality, what Franz Fanon called a “zone of non-being”, clears a space for a postcolonial, critical reassessment of how we ground our thinking about sense perception and mediation, history and world-making.



Launch of the NAMIBIA 1953-54 Website
This year's Visual History Lab collaborated with the Museums Association of Namibia and the Basler Afrika Bibliographien to open the Dammann Collection. We are proud to introduce the website created to help Namibian publics to access voice recordings made in 1953-54. The website is launched during Namibian Heritage Week 2020. This year's theme is about exploring ways that the internet can provide access to archives, museums and cultural heritage.