Current Institutional Affiliation
Language Specialist, Department of Homeland Security

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2007
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, University of Michigan
A Visual History of the Congo: From Ngongo Leteta to Patrice Lumumba

My dissertation will be a history of colonial visuality and of Congolese "seeing" in the Congo from the 1880s through the 1960s. I will approach the study of visual history in the Congo through five key "moments," beginning during the imperial wars of conquest and concluding with Patrice Lumumba’s era and the Simba rebellions of the mid-1960s. I will first reconstruct an archive of visual materials in Belgium for each of these “moments” of Congolese history, particularly within the "Tetela" (also “Batetela”) cultural zone. Second, I will take parts of the visual archive for each of these "moments" to the field, bringing it into conversation with the memories of living Congolese, adding specifically Congolese layers of knowledge about visual history. study represents a new departure in imperial and Congolese history by foregrounding the visual. Not only will the production of colonial visualities be at its core, but this study will explore whether and how the "key moments" I identify in the archives are known and remembered in the Tetela cultural zone. Secondly, this study will rethink how visuality, which I hypothesize was essential to the production of ethnicity in colonialism, "fixed" ethnicity in colonial imaginations, through visual conceits. Thirdly, this study will further understanding of the production of colonial modernities through the mechanisms of production, consumption, and circulation of visuality.