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Allen F. Roberts - "Determinant Indeterminacies: Iconic Photos of a Senegalese Sufi Saint"
The materiality of devotional images contributes to efficacies of aura and reciprocities of visual piety necessary to production of personal and community histories. The only known photograph of Sheikh Amadu Bamba (1853-1927) was taken in 1913 as a colonial surveillance instrument. Its shadowy shapes suggest calligraphy, for Allah inscribed the saint’s face as He does everyone’s; yet different readings are always possible. The photograph is an active icon even as graffiti, for its divine signs (aya) render its indeterminacy determinant. Indeed, Bamba conveys Allah’s baraka blessings through his portrait to embrace, protect, and promote the righteousness of all faiths and backgrounds. Attention will also be given to discovery in May 2020 of an unknown French snapshot that may portray the saint.

Nov 11, 2020 12:30 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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