Digital Visual Activism: Photography and the Re-Opening of the Unresolved Truth and Reconciliation Commission Cases in Post-Apartheid South Africa

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Abstract

This article explores the creation and curation of digital photographic heritage relating to the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa as a political project and examines the importance of the online circulation of historical photographs from private collections for public engagement with the re-opening of unresolved judicial cases concerning activists who were detained, tortured and murdered during apartheid. Focusing on the advocacy and commemoration practices relating to the re-opening of the inquest into the death of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol, who was killed by the South African Security Police in October 1971, the article demonstrates that the curation of photographs included on the website relating to his life and murder can be understood as digital photographic heritage in formation. The article considers how the photographs constitute a form of virtual posthumous personhood and argues that Timol’s digital afterlife moves beyond commemoration and contributes to the ongoing struggle for justice in South Africa in the aftermath of apartheid.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-318
Number of pages22
JournalPhotography and Culture
Volume14
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • apartheid
  • digital resistance
  • posthumous personhood
  • South Africa
  • Truth and Reconciliation Commission

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