Visualizing Afro-identities (1900-1930): Narratives of Disappearance and Presence” examines a collection of lithographs and photographs That I found at the National Archive in Buenos Aires. In this presentation, I consider visual images as discursive tools that served to portray Afro-identities in terms of their absence/presence in social spaces. I argue that visualizing the spaces where the Afroporteño community lived as empty of social value disregards the fact that they were active members of society and pursued their own political agendas. On the other hand, the visual archive from Alejandro Witcomb’s photo studio allows me to address issues of class mobility, presence, and social prestige that contradict the symbolical erasing of Afroporteños by underlining instead the rhetorical force depicted in these visual narratives. Witcomb (1835-1905) established the first photography studio in Buenos Aires in 1880 where the most financially privileged families went to be portrayed.
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