Imagined Pasts: overview on the international workshop

The workshop Imagined Pasts. Colonialism, Photography, and Archives gathered 23 participants and about 40 attendees in a two-day programme of presentations and stimulating debate. The project Colour of Labour co-organized the session on Photography and Indentured Labour, sponsoring the presence of scholars from India and Mauritius.

Papers delivered at the workshop included historical contexts as diverse as British, Italian, Dutch, German, and Portuguese colonialisms in Angola, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Mozambique, Namibia, New Zealand, Papua New-Guinea, South Africa, and Tunisia among others. The worshop fostered multiple discussions that emerge from the contemporary display of visual and other material remains of European colonial regimes. Who has the right to own and represent colonial photo archives? What do photographs from colonial times show and conceal? What limits should be observed when displaying images of colonial violence? What can we see when we look beyond appearances?

The workshop also included the presentation of a pop-up version of the exhibition The Painters of the City: North Africa 1880-1920, curated by William Gallois from the University of Exeter, UK. The glass windows of ICS bookshop and cafeteria were painted with some of the mural patterns that featured in North African cities in the last years of the 19th century and first years of the 20th century.

A thank you to our colleague Mariana Liz, who excelled in the welcoming of the participants and on making the photographs. Thank you also to William Gallois for the image on a painting in the making.