Journal of Romance Studies

Photography, Belgian colonialism and Hergé’s Tintin au Congo

Journal of Romance Studies (2008), 8, (1), 77–89.

Abstract

A section of the controversial 2005 exhibition La Mémoire du Congo at the Musée Royal de l’Afrique Centrale in Brussels, Belgium, raised the sensitive topic of the nature of the photographic evidence of Belgian atrocities. The curatorial slant on the photographs suggested that the knowledge that photography imparts may be based on belief rather than evidence; and that meaningful knowledge of the photographic referent is based on a relational act which establishes identity, that of recognition of the other. This ethical act runs counter to colonial ideology, and later representations of Belgian colonialism, such as Hergé’s Tintin au Congo (1931 and 1946) discussed here, display tensions in their portrayal of imaging which are linked to these founding queries over the meaning of photographic representation in a colonial context.

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Langford, Rachael