Imprisoned in a Luminous Glare

Photography and the African American Freedom Struggle

By Leigh Raiford

312 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 58 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-0978-2
    Published: August 2013
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-8233-7
    Published: February 2011
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7910-3
    Published: February 2011

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In Imprisoned in a Luminous Glare, Leigh Raiford argues that over the past one hundred years, activists in the black freedom struggle have used photographic imagery both to gain political recognition and to develop a different visual vocabulary about black lives. Offering readings of the use of photography in the anti-lynching movement, the civil rights movement, and the black power movement, Imprisoned in a Luminous Glare focuses on key transformations in technology, society, and politics to understand the evolution of photography's deployment in capturing white oppression, black resistance, and African American life.

About the Author

Leigh Raiford is associate professor of African American studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
For more information about Leigh Raiford, visit the Author Page.


"Examines the role photography played in three social movements--anti-lynching, civil rights and black power. . . . by, for example, challenging demeaning representations of black Americans as ignorant or unfit for citizenship."--The Chronicle of Higher Education

“This is a sophisticated study, well above the useful level for public libraries….It is a compelling work unlike anything else presently offered in the field’s scholarship.”--Tennessee Libraries

“An invaluable study of twentieth-century American visual culture.”--Journal of American History

"[Raiford] convincingly shows that framing the movement through photography was as important and effective as boycotts, marches, and sit-ins in waging the struggle against white supremacy."--Journal of Southern History

"Raiford's examination of photography's participation during three critical moments in African American history is an exemplary and engaging work that advances the conversation of African Americans and the making of America. . . . [Her] work adds a welcomed voice and perspective to the visual dialogue between past and present.”--American Studies Journal

"Imprisoned in a Luminous Glare is a valuable study of how visual culture acquires cognitive truth as politics."--The Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory

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