Duggan-Cronin, Alfred Martin


Irish-South African, 1874–1954


In 1929, Alfred Martin Duggan-Cronin, an Irish-South African who lived in the mining town of Kimberley, set out to depict what he considered to be the disappearing indigenous populations of South Africa. His monumental study, titled The Bantu Tribes of South Africa, draws upon tens of thousands of photographs taken during years of travel within the region, meticulously classified by what he viewed as tribe and group. He published the images in eleven volumes, paired with descriptive captions and anthropological essays. Here, Duggan-Cronin’s photographs portray black South African subjects as inhabitants of seemingly timeless and archaic rural areas, bound to customs of the past. While renowned for their superior technical composition, and described by Nelson Mandela as “a matter of national pride,” Duggan-Cronin’s photographs have also been criticized for reducing black subjects to ethnographic types.

Artworks by Duggan-Cronin, Alfred Martin

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