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.
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.