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Christoph Rippe

I did my undergraduate studies at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany, and then moved on to Leiden University in the Netherlands for an MA in Cultural Anthropology. Currently, I am working on a PhD project at the same university, studying the photographic collection of the Catholic Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill in KwaZulu-Natal (1880s–1930s).

My early fascination with photography and pictorial art began to expand into anthropological and historical engagements with material culture and archives when I first had a chance to work on an extended collection of photographs from colonial Togo in 2005. Here I experienced that an understanding of images of a distant past can go beyond their surface and necessarily into the present at close proximity. Following the traces and clues presented by photographs, my research has led me to many fascinating places all over Europe and South Africa. It has allowed me to meet people, and visit archival repositories and museums, which has inflected and connected the images I started with in unexpected ways.

Current interests focus on historical photographic practices and missionary activities in the Umzimkhulu district of KZN.