Inaugural address: Prof Jeanne van Eeden: 4 Nov

Posted on October 26, 2010

“Figuring (out) the landscape: gazing at the land in selected South African postcards”

Date: 4 November 2010
Time: 18:30 for 19:00
Venue: Senate Hall
RSVP no later than 27 October 2010 to Ms Petro Moraal at 012 420 2353 or [email protected]

Visual Culture Studies is concerned with the critical investigation of all manner of cultural products that give expression to socially constructed ideas, ideals and ideologies. During the last few decades, it has become increasingly evident that this subject should not just reflect on the products of so-called high culture but should also engage with the visual products of everyday life. As a potential visual resource, picture postcards have for many years been neglected as ephemeral or inconsequential commodities. International critical scholarship has, however, recently started to devote serious attention to the ideologies and messages that are conveyed by postcards. This paper teases out one strand of this new discourse by looking at a number of South African postcards from the 1950s to the 1980s wherein the object of the gaze is the landscape. These postcards simultaneously reveal and conceal the political, social and cultural realities of South Africa at that time. It is argued that the accessible and portable nature of postcards made them an ideal medium by which peoples’ relationship with the land was rehearsed and enacted during a decisive period of South African history.

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