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“Photography on the Color Line should be widely read and widely taught. In this outstanding book, Shawn Michelle Smith has offered not only a spirited reading of a historically important group of photographs but also a methodology and theoretical grounding that are widely applicable even beyond the specific archive of the Du Bois photographs.”—Laura Wexler, author of Tender Violence: Domestic Visions in an Age of U.S. Imperialism — N/A
“Photography on the Color Line is both a complicated and fascinating read on race, human displays at expositions, and Du Bois’s notion of double consciousness. It is groundbreaking work on the Du Boisian concept of life on the color line.”—Deborah Willis, coauthor of A Small Nation of People: W. E. B. Du Bois and African American Portraits of Progress — N/A
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Smith reads Du Bois’s photographs in relation to other turn-of-the-century images such as scientific typologies, criminal mugshots, racist caricatures, and lynching photographs. By juxtaposing these images with reproductions from Du Bois’s exhibition archive, Smith shows how Du Bois deliberately challenged racist representations of African Americans. Emphasizing the importance of comparing multiple visual archives, Photography on the Color Line reinvigorates understandings of the stakes of representation and the fundamental connections between race and visual culture in the United States.
Shawn Michelle Smith is Associate Professor of American Studies at Saint Louis University. She is the author of American Archives: Gender, Race, and Class in Visual Culture.
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