The colonial lens. Setting aside the more straightforward exploitation of land and labor that colonialism embodied, images like this one remind us of the powerful geographical imaginations that also characterized modern conquests of the world. More than just a picture of the exotic “Other”, look at how this advertisement implicitly critiques modernity. Modern life is boring and mundane, yet overly complicated at the same time. It’s not sufficiently manly either, even though the East African alternative pictured here doesn’t exactly display a conventional image of masculinity, with an elegantly dressed and bejeweled male figure who shows no obvious sign of being a “warrior”. (Perhaps because that would make him appear too threatening to the would-be traveler from the North?) As an escape from the tedium of the modern city, British East Africa offers the apparent allure of both simplicity and novelty, of peaceful repose and (violent) adventure. A beautiful and fascinating image.
Selling Africa: Uganda Railway - British East Africa on Flickr.