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Reading an image in the Other context

Paul Jenkins, archivist and African historian, is a leading expert on the scholarly use of historical photographs. In this essay, he explores questions about representation, cultural context, and historical meaning in a photograph by Basel Mission doctor Rudolf Fisch. The photograph was taken at the beginning of the 20th century in Akwapim, the traditional Akon Kingdom in Ghana.

This visual essay draws on resources from the International Mission Photography Archive and is the first in a series of Essays & Interpretations pieces produced by the USC Digital Library and the USC Center for Religion & Civic Culture.

The photographs used in this essay can be found in:


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