Jessica Williams Stark

McCormick Postdoctoral Research Associate in the History of Photography
Green Hall, 3-S-6


Jessica Stark’s research focuses on modern African art and the global histories of photography. Her current book project examines the unheralded photographs that Anne Fischer (1914–1986), a German-Jewish refugee to Cape Town, produced in South Africa in the decade leading up to apartheid and in England following the Afrikaner Nationalists’ rise to power. Through close attention to Fischer's images and their circulation, Stark explores how this young Weimar woman mobilized German modernist aesthetics in her new colonial context and considers how her gendered experiences of exile inflected the work she later produced in London. The first monograph on Fischer, her project demonstrates how South African art histories, although historically sidelined in narratives of art, have had significant implications for the development of new transnational modernisms in Africa and Europe.

Stark earned her Ph.D. (2022) and M.A. (2016) in the History of Art and Architecture from Harvard. She holds an M.A. in Art History and Archaeology from the University of Maryland, College Park (2013), and a B.A. in English and Art History and Criticism from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln (2010). Her research has been generously supported by the Peter E. Palmquist Foundation, the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, the Fulbright Program, the Foreign Language and Area Studies Program, and Harvard University.


Ph.D. (2022), M.A. (2016) in the History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University

Selected Publications

“From Hamburg to Cape Town: The Denizen Photography of Else and Helmuth Hausmann.” In Urban Exile: Theories, Methods, Research Practices, edited by Burcu Dogramaci, Marieke Hetschold, Laura Karp Lugo, and Helen Roth, 601-631. Bristol: Intellect, 2023.

“A Pariah Among Parvenus: Anne Fischer and the Politics of South Africa’s New Realism(s),” October 173 (Summer 2020): 143–175.

“A Working Woman’s Eye: Anne Fischer and the South African Photography of Weimar Women in Exile.” In Women and Photography in Africa: Creative Practices and Feminist Challenges, edited by Darren Newbury, Lorena Rizzo, and Kylie Thomas, 23–44. Abingdon: Routledge, 2020.

“Printing and the Urgency of Translation: Peter Hujar, David Wojnarowicz, and the Task of Schneider/Erdman, Inc.” In Analog Culture: Printer’s Proofs from the Schneider/Erdman Photography Lab, 1981-2001, edited by Jennifer Quick, 38–63. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Art Museums, 2018.

African Art
History of Photography
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