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Anti-apartheid activist Debo​ra Marakalala at 'Free Mandela' rally, Durban, South Africa, 15 December, 1985. Photograph by Gille de Vlieg

Women, Photography and Resistance in Transnational Perspective

Kylie Thomas, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Research Fellow, 2019-2021
This study focuses on the work of women photographers who participated in resistance movements and whose images were made to expose and resist repressive regimes. Although the significance of these activist movements is widely recognised, the role of women photographers remains marginalised and under-researched. The research centres on the lives and work of the women who formed part of the Dutch resistance movement, De Ondergedoken Camera (The Underground Camera), and of the women who were members of the anti-apartheid photography collective, Afrapix.

About the project: 

This research draws attention to how individual women photographers, working in Europe at the time of the Second World War, and in South Africa during apartheid, challenged both repressive states and patriarchal structures, at considerable risk to themselves. The project will provide detailed analyses of the lives and work of some of the most significant women photographers of the last century, and is directed towards opening academic and public discussions about women and resistance in transnational perspective.

The project outcomes will include the publication of research articles; an online exhibition; and the publication of a special issue on photography and resistance that will explore how women and nonbinary photographers and visual activists have made use of the medium of photography in support of feminist, LGBTQ+, and anti-racist struggles across the world.

This research is funded by the European Commission within the framework of H2020-EU.1.3.2. through the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship awarded to Kylie Thomas for the project Fem-Resist, Grant agreement ID: 838864.

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