Diasporic Stasis and the Frequency of Black Refusal
This talk takes what may seem a counter-intuitive proposition as its primary point of departure – that stasis is neither an absence nor a cessation of motion; it is a continual balancing of multiple forces. It theorizes stasis as motion held in taut suspension in ways that hover between stillness and movement. The talk engages the forms of disaporic tension and stasis enacted in two archives of black vernacular photography: late nineteenth century ethnographic photos of rural Africans in the Eastern Cape and early twentieth century studio portraits of African Christians in South African urban centers. Focusing on the sonic frequencies of these images’ tense performance of stasis, the talk queries the relationship between black agency, self-fashioning and the everyday practices of refusal enacted by black subjects in a genre of images I call ‘quiet photography’.
Tina Campt is Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Africana and Women’s Gender and Studies, and Director of the Barnard Center for Research on Women at Barnard College-Columbia University. Campt’s published work theorizes gender, racial and diasporic formation in black communities in Germany, and Europe more broadly. She is the author of two books: Other Germans: Black Germans and the Politics of Race, Gender and Memory in the Third Reich (2004), an oral history that explores the experiences of Black Germans during the Third Reich, and Image Matters: Archive, Photography and the African Diasporain Europe (2012), which theorizes the affects of family photography of in early twentieth century Black German and Black British communities. Campt has edited special issues of Feminist Review, Callaloo and small axe, and together with Paul Gilroy, co-edited Der Black Atlantik (2004), the first German language collection of key texts on the Black Atlantic. She recently completed her third monograph, Listening to Images (forthcoming from Duke University Press), a collection of essays that theorizes the everyday practices of refusal and fugitivity enacted in a frequently overlooked genre of black vernacular photographs she calls ‘quiet photography.’