Colloquium: Mirror Images - Mediated urbanity and the presence of the future

27.09.2017 16:15 to 18:00

Presentation by Prof. Dr. Till Förster, Chair, Institute of Social Anthropology Basel

West African cities are displaying a stupendous wealth of pictures: painted signboards of all sizes and forms, industrial billboards sponsored by big companies, collections of photos stored in plastic albums and enlarged and displayed in frames on the walls of private living rooms or on the occasion of costly funerals to a wider audience, picture files on mobile phones, forwarded to relatives and friends and published on Facebook, YouTube or Flickr – there are endless examples, and they all seem to confirm Simmel’s old thesis that the city is an environment that overwhelms and exhausts the senses. Yet, African cities are not an unstructured mix of visual symbols, signs and signals. They rather constitute a sensory regime that is structured along urban everyday practices. This talk thus tries to trace the constitution of pictures as images by looking at how and why urbanites make use of pictures, in particular pictures on mobile phones. On the one hand, it analyses how and why urbanites copy certain pictures by reproducing them as snapshots on the tiny screen of their phones, on the other hand, I look at how they revise and adjust their visual memory by deleting picture files or by making them invisible to certain others.



The public Colloquium takes place on a weekly basis during the term. Guests or researchers and MA students at the Institute of Social Anthropology present their work.

When: Every Wednesday from 16:15 - 18h

Where: At the Institute of Social Anthropology, Münsterplatz 19, 4051 Basel

Program of the Colloquium (TBA)