Mechanical Reproduction: The Photograph and the Child in the Crisis and The Brownies’ Book

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review




Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)737-774
JournalJournal of American Studies
Issue number4
Early online date20 Feb 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Feb 2019
Publication type

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article considers the photographic portraits of children reprinted in The Crisis's "Children's Numbers" and the Brownies' Book. While the magazines use these images to further their uplift agenda, they also present a sophisticated commentary on the photographic form. The publications present an understanding of the camera as an instrument for interpreting and shaping reality rather than as a truth-Telling device. By suggesting parallels between the photographic image and the idea of the child, and exposing the conventions and distortions that produce both, the magazines challenge claims of authenticity and transparency which had helped to naturalize the oppression of black people.

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