Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Art History


Siona Wilson

Committee Members

Anna Indych-López

Sukhdev Sandhu

Eddie Chambers

Subject Categories

Contemporary Art | Film Production | Interdisciplinary Arts and Media | Photography | Visual Studies


Black Britain, Black film, diaspora studies, postcolonial film, British photography, postcolonial photography


This dissertation tracks three moments from 1950 to 1989, when images were put to work by Black photographers and filmmakers to stake individual and communal claims to Britain and Britishness: first, through the emergence of photographic portraiture taken in domestic living spaces during the 1950s to 1970s; second, through the Black Panther Movement and their use of photography in the late 1960s to mid 1970s, and last, with the efflorescence of Black film and video collectives in the 1980s. At each of these moments, I attend to the simultaneous production, negotiation, and co-mingling of new social identities that were diasporic, political, and collective. Imaginative forms of collaboration and collectivity emerged through the entwinement of new social identities and experiments in photography and film. I privilege photography for the medium’s populism, mobility, and mechanical reproducibility and attend to how images moved through public and private spaces. Images moved through informal social channels across Black communities in the diaspora; photography circulated through Black Panther Movement newspapers, journals, and the street, and photographic archives of the previous decades appeared in Black films, circulating through cinemas and television screens. Throughout this dissertation, I demonstrate how photography and film constructed new horizontal viewing networks across Britain and its Commonwealth. Moreover, I outline the ways in which image makers collaborated with Black communities and experimented with visual strategies to construct and perform new identities. Photographers and filmmakers experimented with visual strategies that called upon Britain’s colonial history to construct connections between the violence and afterlives of Britain’s imperial project at home and abroad to imagine and create new social and visual worlds.

This work is embargoed and will be available for download on Sunday, February 01, 2026

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