Kylie Thomas

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2017/2018
discipline History
Research Associate, Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice, University of the Free State

Research project

Moving Light: Photography and Transnational History


"Moving Light" aims to trace the connections between the history of photography in Europe and in Africa, with a particular focus on the life histories and work of women photographers who made use of photography as a form of resistance to repressive regimes.


My research will explore how photographs and photographers move across national boundaries and forge connections between diverse places and historical events. "Moving Light" will be the first study to engage with the work of Anne Fischer, a Jewish refugee from Berlin and the first woman to open a photographic studio in South Africa. My research will explore the connections between Fischer’s work and Jewish women photographers in Berlin and Vienna in the period 1920-1950. I will also engage with the work of Emmy Andriesse, the Dutch Jewish photographer who was forced to go into hiding during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands until she was able to secure forged papers. Andriesse then formed part of the resistance group, the Ondergedoken [Hidden] Camera, and documented the Hunger Winter in Amsterdam in 1944-45. I will also consider the lives and work of, among others, Lotte Jacobi, Trude Fleishmann, Claude Cahun, Jane Alexander and Jillian Edelstein.


Through my analyses of the work of women photographers from the 1930s to the present, my study will explore some of the far-reaching effects of the advent of National Socialism in Germany and will cast new light on how the events of the Second World War came to shape transnational history.




Kylie Thomas is a Research Associate at the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice at the University of the Free State. She holds a Ph.D from the University of Cape Town. Her main research interests focus on violence, photography and queer and anti-racist activism in South Africa during and after apartheid.


Selected publications


'Rage Against the State: Political Funerals and Queer Visual Activism in Post-Apartheid South Africa', in B. Schmahmann & K. Miller (eds), Bronze Warriors and Plastic Presidents: Public Art in South Africa, 1999-2015, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 2017. 

Photography in and out of Africa: Iterations with Difference, with L. Green (eds), Routledge, London, 2016.

'Photography and the Future in Jansje Wissema’s Images of District Six', Safundi, [South African Photography: Special Double Issue], vol. 15, no. 2-3, 2014, pp. 283-305.


Impossible Mourning: HIV/AIDS and Visuality after Apartheid, Bucknell University Press, New Jersey, Wits University Press, Johannesburg, 2014.


'The Transgressive Visions of Jabulani Chen Pereira', in Z. Matebeni (ed.), Reclaiming Afrikan: Queer Perspectives on Sexual and Gender Identities, Modjaji Books, Cape Town, 2014, pp. 44-51.





senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2018/2019
Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM)
discipline History
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2014/2015
Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM)
discipline Communication
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2011/2012
Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM)
discipline Political Science
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM)
discipline Literature