British photographic history

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African photography: The Yaoundé Declaration

The social sciences and the humanities as well as the art market have discovered African photography. There have never been as many publications and exhibitions on this subject as today. At the same time, however, it is forgotten in what desolate state and precarious conditions most photo and cinematographic archives are, the guardians of the visual heritage of the continent. And even though, in recent years, much has been done to conserve and digitize photo archives in Africa, the long-term preservation of the material and, in particular, access to analogue and digital photo and film archives is by no means assured.

For this reason and with the experience of several years working in and with photo archives in Cameroon, African Photography Initiatives has formulated the Yaoundé Declaration. The Yaoundé Declaration is calling on the government and other stakeholders to assume their responsibilities and make every effort to preserve and provide access to analogue and digital photo and film archives in Cameroon.

As a concrete request, the Yaoundé Declaration is asking for the recognition by the Ministry of Arts and Culture of the Buea Press Photo Archives and the Yaoundé Press Photo Archives as cultural property as intended in the national law on Cultural Heritage from 18 April 2013.

The Yaoundé Declaration was presented on November 9 at the University of Yaoundé I in the framework of an international conference. Endorsed by the vice-chancellor of the University, the organizers of the conference and over 50 first signatories from Cameroun, the Yaoundé Declaration will be included as first recommendation in the proceedings of the conference.

The Yaoundé Declaration with the list of the signatories will be handed over to the Ministries of Communication and Art and Culture in due course.

We are kindly inviting you to sign the Yaoundé Declaration. Together, we hope to create momentum and point the way to the sustainable preservation of and access to analogue and digital photo and film archives in Cameroon and, by extension, to other African countries.

Please, if you agree, advertise for the Yaoundé Declaration and distribute this call through your network.

Yaoundé Declaration online:

See more on the history of African photography here:

For subscribing please send an email to with the subject "Yaoundé Declaration". Please indicate your name and institution.

Thanks you for your support.

Jürg Schneider & Rosario Mazuela 

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