Photography, Identity, and Migration

Controlling Colonial Migrants in Interwar France and Senegal

in French Politics, Culture & Society
Johann Le Guelte Xavier University

Search for other papers by Johann Le Guelte in
Current site
Google Scholar
Restricted access


This article examines the politics of interwar colonial identification practices put into place by the French colonial state in order to curtail the mobility of colonial (im)migrants. I argue that photography was used as a tool of imperial control in both French West Africa (AOF) and metropolitan France, since colonial men's inability to provide the required photographic portraits often prevented them from moving around the empire. In response, colonial subjects appropriated photography in alternative ways to subvert these administrative restrictions. Moreover, they took advantage of metropolitan racial stereotypes to contest Western identification practices.

Contributor Notes

Johann Le Guelte is an Assistant Professor of French and Francophone studies at Xavier University (Cincinnati). His research focuses on the politics of interwar colonial propaganda and the use of photography as a central tool for the formation of an interwar French visual empire, and an aide to the civilizing mission. He also examines transnational instances of photographic resistance to the French Empire in both Senegal and metropolitan France during the interwar years.

  • Collapse
  • Expand


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 575 172 26
Full Text Views 780 347 30
PDF Downloads 119 19 3