The List: A peek at the Stevenson library

The Black Photo Album/Look at Me: 1890-1950 by Santu Mofokeng 

This is a collection of photographs of working and middle-class black folk taken between 1890 and 1950. With the pictures being commissioned and taken by a black photographer, the collection is an opportunity to engage with how black folk imagined and portrayed themselves when the portrayal was free of coercion. 

One Day I Will Write About This Place by Binyavanga Wainaina 

Here Binyavanga Wainaina documents his attempts at coming to terms with the way his identities exist and are received by a heteronormalised and colonised Africa. While walking the reader through his time at home in Kenya, South Africa, and the other places he encountered, he touches on tribalism, patriotism, language, displacement and xenophobia with ease.

We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85 (a source book) 

From April to September 2017, the Brooklyn Museum presented the We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85 exhibition. Through the work of black women, including Emma Amos, Senga Nengudi, Betye Saar, Lorraine O’Grady and Faith Ringgold, the show examined the political, cultural and aesthetic concerns of black women during the feminism wave of the time. It was accompanied by a source book with pieces of writing by black artists, critics and historians that aim to help patrons engage with the artists while considering the spaces they were operating in. 

Collective Amnesia by Koleka Putuma

Through this collection of poems, Koleka Putuma interrogates the ways we engage with personal and political memories spanning homophobia, gender-based violence, religion and academia. By remembering, the poems demand that the reader address buried and normalised traumas. 

Art on My Mind: Visual Politics by bell hooks

This collection of essays, published in 1995, is the cultural analyst and critic’s contribution to conversations about making, showing and criticising the aesthetics and work of black artists concerned with empowering black folk. 

The Quiet Violence of Dreams by K Sello Duiker

While trying to understand the inherited trauma of being born in a country with a violent past, university student Tshepo seemingly suffers a cannabis-induced psychotic episode that lands him in a psychiatric facility. Through these and other events revolving around the protagonist, the writer examines the ways in which queerness, race, capitalism and neo-colonialism intersect and do not work for the good of marginalised groups. 

Whitewalling: Art, Race & Protest in 3 Acts by Aruna D’Souza

The 2017 Whitney Biennial featured white artist Dana Schutz’s painting of a lynched Emmett Till. In 1979, the Artist Space in New York had an exhibition titled The Nigger Drawing. Ten years earlier, the Metropolitan Museum of Art did not include work from a black artist for its Harlem on My Mind exhibition. With these incidents in mind, Aruna D’Souza examines how artistic freedom and freedom of speech have masked the ways in which racism continues to manifest itself in the art world. 

The Zulus of New York by Zakes Mda

Zakes Mda goes back to the period when European’s fascination for amaZulu had heightened because they defeated the British in the Battle of Isandlwana. With that cue, a group of Zulu folk were uprooted and sent to Europe and then the United States by William Leonard Hunt to perform in circuses. Very few of their stories were recorded. As a step toward restoring their humanity, Mda uses historical fiction to fill the gaps in their stories. 

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Zaza Hlalethwa
Zaza Hlalethwa
Zaza Hlalethwa studies Digital Democracy, New Media and Political Activism, and Digital Politics.

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