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The Royal Anthropological Institute is proud to award the 2020 Photographic Studies Prize to Prof Darren Newbury.

Sadly last year’s live event had to be cancelled. We are now following up with a virtual event.


Friday 16 April 2021 at 6.30 – 8:00pm (BST)   

Please join us in this celebration for a talk by Prof Newbury, followed by the prize giving and a virtual drinks reception.

Register here for the Zoom event: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_zCTydhZ_QQGUcrq3wm0GmA

Locating Africa in the Cold War Archive: Photographic Diplomacy, Race and Decolonisation

Prof Darren Newbury (University of Brighton) 

This presentation draws on a research project that locates photography at the intersection of African decolonisation, racial conflict in the United States, and the cultural Cold War. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the emergence of newly independent African nations on the world stage precipitated a contest for influence on the continent by the Cold War superpowers, which for the first time had African populations as its audience. One response of the US government was to mount a campaign of ‘photographic diplomacy’ through the United States Information Agency (USIA), best known for its sponsorship of the international tour of Edward Steichen’s The Family of Man. The USIA archives reveal an extended photographic project evolving in concert with its engagement with postcolonial Africa, disseminated through magazines, posters, pamphlets and window displays; a photography of relations within which race was a key feature. The USIA program of photographic diplomacy in Africa had several dimensions: the practice of photographing the political, cultural and educational visits of Africans to the US, which provided a space for the imagination of international cooperation and friendship; the representation of civil rights struggle for international audiences, presented as an example of democracy in action; and picturing a world of integration and racial co-existence. The presentation offers a brief sketch of the USIA visual program for Africa, and analyses the agency’s output through a selection of photographs and picture stories.


The RAI Photography Committee are pleased to announce that the Fourth Photography Studies Award has been given to Prof Darren Newbury. The Prize is awarded by the RAI Council to recognize a distinguished contribution to the study of anthropology and photography. As a Professor of Photographic Practice at the University of Brighton, Prof Newbury has over the past twenty years developed a body of work exploring the practice and meaning of photography in South Africa. Whilst not an anthropologist by training, he has collaborated with numerous anthropologists and collections, and his work has had a lasting influence on anthropological understandings of the social role of photography and the ethnography of visual culture in South Africa, as well as the development of an important curatorial practice, with important exhibitions held at the Pitt Rivers Museum and the District Six Museum in Cape Town. Influential volumes include Defiant Images: Photography and Apartheid South Africa (2009), a major monograph on photography during the apartheid period and its place in post-apartheid memorialisation; and The African Photographic Archive: Research and Curatorial Strategies (2015), co-edited with Christopher Morton, a volume exploring new methodological approaches to researching and curating the photographic archive, in addition to its specifically African concerns.