Professor Stange's Public Lecture
Date: 2 December 2008
Venue: Ustinov Room, Van Mildert College
Title: Photography, Civil Rights, and Black Power
This lecture explores the key roles played by photographs and television images in the United States' midcentury black liberation movement; they served as evidence, reportage, publicity, and sometimes sensation. It will contrast the widely-viewed images of the black citizen as rights seeker constructed by and of the civil rights movement with those of the Black Panther Party, and it will consider the differences between photojournalistic and television representations of the movement and its participants. The focus is on images' discursive power and cultural agency at a moment in the 1960s that produced a "crisis of personhood" with us still. Documentary photographs have long been effectively employed as the civil rights movement used them: to discover, represent, and authenticate for wide audiences the existence of unjust, previously unseen, suffering, and hence to provoke its remedy. But the Black Panthers, seeking to revalue blackness positively even as they disdained any aspiration to national subjectivity, constructed themselves and their images differently: they employed their racialized (hyper)visibility to demarcate "all that lies outside the protection of the nation-state and its cultures of citizenship and civility." The various uncouplings, or disarticulations, in their verbal and visual rhetoric - blackness from suffering and abjection, citizenship and public agency from the nation-state - remain energizing, exciting, and troubling.
- Professor Stange - IAS Public Lecture (last modified: 9 February 2009) - MP3 file