Unbound: Photography and Visuality in Senegal


Getty/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowships in the History of Art




This book reframes narratives of photography’s origin and originality by focusing on the medium’s histories in Senegal. Strategically located on the Atlantic coast, Senegal was one of the countries where this technology first arrived before circulating inland, becoming one of the epicenters of Africa’s modernity and modernism. Based on 10 years of research, this project is the first to focus on Senegal and consider the relation between photographic practices and local visualities—or forms of seeing—that predated and overlapped with the camera. By zooming into four moments between the 1840s—when the daguerreotype arrived—and the 1960s—when the medium became a “social imperative”—the book considers a variety of authors, genres, and objects, including glass paintings and albums. Rather than searching for a “Senegalese” visual language, this project traces the multiple, sometimes contradictory, subjectivities and ways of seeing that were crafted before, during, and despite colonialism.