interlogi | dr. Patricia Hayes: ‘Our nightly bread’ Women and the city in Ricardo Rangel’s photographs of Lourenço Marques, Mozambique (1950s-60s)

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May 28, 2012 at 11:00
Mala dvorana, ZRC SAZU

‘Our nightly bread’ Women and the city in Ricardo Rangel’s photographs of Lourenço Marques, Mozambique (1950s-60s)


Ricardo Rangel’s photographic study of the Rua Araújo and red light district near the harbour in late colonial Lourenço Marques (Maputo) poses new questions around the debates in African historiography regarding ‘women in the city’. The area itself (with clubs, bars, cabarets) was broken up soon after Independence (1975) in the wake of a postcolonial phase of purification under the new Marxist-Leninist government of Frelimo, and has only recently been resurrected. Thus Rangel’s rich photographic oeuvre presents certain possibilities for interpretation and historicisation, with a feminised economy of the night at the heart of the city. Rangel presents viewers with a very porous and bohemian sense of the city. His work suggests a thick, interlocking space of critical commentary, with artists and intellectuals engaged in a kind of moral aesthetics that is replaced by a mode of ascetic morality under the new postcolonial regime.

Patricia Hayes is a Zimbabwean historian who completed her doctorate at the University of Cambridge in 1992. In her PhD she dealt with the colonisation of northern Namibia and continued her research in two co-edited volumes tackling South African colonial rule in Namibia (Namibia Under South African Rule and The Colonising Camera, 1998). She has guest-edited special journal issues on visuality and gender in African history, including Kronos (2000) and Gender & History (2006). In Recent research she deals with photography and history in southern Africa, especially in late colonial and apartheid periods; this resulted in the publication of Bush of Ghosts (2010) with John Liebenberg, and several articles on South African documentary photography. She is based at the History Department of the University of the Western Cape.