Thank God for the camera, for the testimony of the light itself, which no mere man can contradict
March 20, 2004 3:55 AM   Subscribe

The Kodak vs. the King. Images of the the Belgian Congo (aka the Congo Free State) from it's heyday under the personal rule of the very evil King Leopold. The contrast between the photographs used by Leopolds apologists and those used by his enemies (lead by the remorseless E.D. Morel) is probably unsurprising but interesting as evidence of perhaps the first propaganda war to be dominated by photography. Also, the first genocidal atrocity to be, very partially, documented photographically.
The kodak has been a sore calamity to us. The most powerful enemy that has confronted us, indeed.... Every Yankee missionary and every interrupted trader sent home and got one; and now -- oh, well, the pictures get sneaked around everywhere, in spite of all we can do to ferret them out and suppress them.
Mark Twain, King Leopold's Soliloquy

(most links go to the excellent boondocksnet site which takes as its starting point Mark Twain and his anti-imperialist campaigns and branches out most impressively from there)
posted by thatwhichfalls (6 comments total)
Whoops - that "Leopolds apologists" should link to here
posted by thatwhichfalls at 3:59 AM on March 20, 2004

Somehow I misread the FPP as "Kodiak" and "King Leopard". Must find coffee.
posted by Foosnark at 8:32 AM on March 20, 2004

Great post, great links. Two minor quibbles:
1) your "apologists" link doesn't actually mention any apologists for Leopold, and in fact the photo shown is from the French, not the Belgian, Congo;
2) you might with profit have used today's advanced "More inside" technology.
posted by languagehat at 9:09 AM on March 20, 2004

Great stuff. I just finished reading Adam Hochschild's King Leopold's Ghost last week (highly recommended, btw). This is an excellent compliment to that book.
posted by jpoulos at 9:19 AM on March 20, 2004

[Wonders if people in 1905 breathlessly went on about how the Kodak has changed everything forever.]
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:08 AM on March 20, 2004

Thanks. Great stuff.
posted by putzface_dickman at 4:22 AM on March 22, 2004

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