Writer and academic Daniel C. Blight discusses the relationship between photography and racial whiteness. Despite the history and theory of photography’s critical turn to questions of colonialism, imperialism and race, these important discourses have left the visual logic of racial whiteness largely unexamined. Blight suggests that in order for “western” photography to properly confront its violent participation in the development and continuation of white supremacy, it might begin an elucidative and critically self-reflexive discussion of racial whiteness, one informed by concepts developed in the areas of critical whiteness studies and the sociology and philosophy of race. To approach this task, Blight considers the writings of Barbara Applebaum, Alastair Bonnett, W.E.B. Du Bois, Kalpana Seshadri-Crooks and George Yancy, alongside work by artists that have made race-critical photography, including Michelle Dizon and Viêt Lê, Buck Ellison, Sophie Gabrielle and Hank Willis Thomas.
Daniel C. Blight is a writer based in London, and has written for 1000 Words, Aperture, Foam, frieze, The Guardian, Philosophy of Photography, Photoworks, Vogue Italia, Manchester Art Gallery, UCL Art Museum, Art Museum of Estonia, Foto Museum Antwerp, FOMU Belgium and the Australian Centre for Photography. His first book, The Image of Whiteness: Contemporary Photography and Racialization, was co-published by SPBH Editions and Art on the Underground in September 2019. “Ways of Seeing Whiteness,” a chapter contribution to the book George Yancy: A Critical Reader (ed. Kimberley Ducey) will be published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2021. He is lecturer (assistant professor), Historical & Critical Studies in Photography, School of Media, University of Brighton, and has been a visiting lecturer at Camberwell College of Arts, Coventry University, Royal Academy of Art The Hague, Royal College of Art, University of Copenhagen, University of Fine Arts of Hamburg, University of Oxford and Yale University.
© Buck Ellison, Pasta Night, 2016
Topics covered in class:
A – Books/Articles
Theodore W. Allen – The Invention of the White Race (Verso, 1994).
Hans Belting – An Anthropology of Images: Picture, Medium, Body (Princeton University Press, 2011).
Ali Behdad and Luke Gartlan (eds.) – Photography’s Orientalism: New Essays on Colonial Representation (The Getty Research Institute, 2013).
Alastair Bonnett – Who Was White? The disappearance of non-European white identities and the formation of European racial whiteness (Journal of Ethnic and Racial Studies, Vol. 21, Issue 6, 1998).
Kalpana Seshadri-Crooks – Desiring Whiteness: A Lacanian Analysis of Race (Routledge, 2000).
Elizabeth Davis – Structures of seeing: Blindness, race and gender in visual culture (The Senses and Society, Vol. 14, Issue 1, 2019).
W.E.B. Du Bois – The Souls of White Folk, in The Souls of Black Folk (Penguin Classics, 2018).
Elizabeth Kaszynski – “Look, a [picture]!”: Visuality, race, and what we do not see (Quarterly Journal of Speech, Vol. 102, Issue 1 2015) .
Cheryl Harris – Whiteness as Property (Harvard Law Review, Vol. 106, Issue 8 1993).
Achille Mbembe – On the Postcolony. (University of California Press, 2001).
Alfred J. López – Whiteness After Empire in Alfred J. López (ed.) Postcolonial Whiteness: A Critical Reader on Race and Empire (State University of New York Press, 2005).
Jessie Daniels – The Algorithmic Rise of the “Alt-Right” (Contexts, Vol. 17, Issue 1, American Sociological Association, 2018).
Kay Young McChesney – Teaching Diversity: The Science You Need to Know to Explain Why Race is Not Biological (Sage Open, Vol. 5, Issue 4, 2015).
Michelle Smith, S – At the Edge of Sight: Photography and the Unseen (Durham, N. Carolina: Duke University Press, 2013).
Amy L. Wood – Lynching Photography and the Visual Reproduction of White Supremacy. American Nineteenth Century History (Vol. 6, Issue 3, Routledge, 2005).
Fouché, R – From Black Inventors to One Laptop Per Child: Exporting a Racial Politics of Technology in Lisa Nakamura and Peter Chow-White (eds.) Race After the Internet (Routledge, 2012).
Cécile Bishop – Photography, Race and Invisibility (photographies, Vol. 11, Issue 2, 2018).
Audrey Thompson – Tiffany, Friend of People of Colour: White Investments in Antiracism (International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Vol. 16, Issue 1, 2003).
Peter Wollen – On Gaze Theory (New Left Review, Issue 44, 2007).
Louise Wood – Lynching Photography and the Reproduction of White Supremacy (American Nineteenth Century History, Vol. 6, Issue 3, 2005).
George Yancy – Look, a White! Philosophical Essays on Whiteness (Temple University Press, 2012).
B – Artists
Broomberg & Chanarin