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Objects of Love and Decay: Colonial Photographs in a Postcolonial Archive

Abstract

The poor condition of a collection of colonial photographs currently housed in the National Archives of The Gambia is the subject of a variety of competing discourses and practices concerning the preservation of colonial visual culture. At issue is the question of who has the right to look after the artifacts of material culture as they inevitably expire. I suggest that the discourse surrounding decaying colonial photographs is a lover's discourse. The decay causes controversy because it reminds us of our feelings for, and intimacy with, colonial culture and asks that we imagine ways of finally letting go.

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