Date of Award

Fall 12-20-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Pearl McHaney

Second Advisor

Renée Schatteman

Third Advisor

Calvin Thomas


South African painter turned photographer, Zwelethu Mthethwa, was born in Durban during Apartheid. In 1980 Mthethwa began taking his photographs in the shanty towns on the outskirts of Cape Town and later took pictures in Mozambique and New Orleans. His work has global significance. Using art and literary theory and criticism, I expand upon the significance of his photographs in the contemporary world. I do “readings” of eight photographs from eight different series of Zwelethu Mthethwa’s work using postcolonial theory, abjection, and cultural studies as theoretical constructs to provide three different angles for interpreting his work.