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Shadow Archives: Reading across Swakara’s visual-tactile space

Shadow Archives: Reading across Swakara’s visual-tactile space

by Dr. Memory Biwa (University of Namibia, Windhoek)

Thu, June 24, 12:15 - 14:15, Zoom ID 975 9738 3492, Passcode 850069 (RS Knowledges)


This paper explores collections of photographs of the Swakara (karakul sheep) farming industry. Photography, a primary technology employed by breeders to image pelt characteristics of newborn lambs to designers of Swakara products on models; is hinged on the visualizing economies of animals, people and space. These technologies in location construct ideas on aesthetics, texture, value, and similarly spatialises racialised and gendered bodies (McKittrick, 2006). The photographs form part of a knowledge-making apparatus, a photographic archive, which constructs a range of moments, and may be re-asserted using modes and techniques which have the potential to loom large, overshadow (Lalu, 2009) present questions of farming and spatial histories. I ‘read across’ collections of images, authorship, genres, circuits; and alongside literature on land and pastoralism in southern Namibia (Mokopakgosi, 1992, Sylvester, 1998, Koessler, 2005, Moore, 2020), to begin to trail overlapping and asymmetrical histories in pastoralism, land, and their visual (and other sensory) techniques, knowledges or to moments of dislocation, which point elsewhere.

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