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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: August 2014

15 - An Ideological Framing of Annemarie Schwarzenbach's Racialized Gaze: Writing and Shooting for the USA-Reportagen (1936–38)


Swiss photojournalist and author Annemarie Schwarzenbach was born in 1908 into the family of the wealthy Swiss silk manufacturer Alfred Schwarzenbach and his wife Renée Schwarzenbach-Wille and died under tragic circumstances in 1942. Schwarzenbach's life was marked by her travels to the United States, the Orient, Africa, and through Europe. In this context, during her lifetime Schwarzenbach gained recognition for her travel writing and journalism within Switzerland. For example, her work was regularly published in Zürcher Illustrierte, National-Zeitung, Luzerner Tagblatt, Thurgauer Zeitung, and the journal ABC. As recent scholarship has emphasized, “her travel writings consist of a wide range of genres: from journalistic reportages and feuilletons to stories, novels, and also poems. In addition to her journalistic and travel writing, Schwarzenbach also produced several novels and novellas that thematize same-sex relationships as well as the blurring of gender lines, such as Eine Frau zu sehen (written in 1929, published in 2008), Pariser Novelle (written in 1929, published in 2003), Freunde um Bernhard (1931), and Tod in Persien (1936), among others. This last work also reflects her travels to the Near East. Schwarzenbach's androgynous and striking physical beauty, her homosexuality, travels, and drug abuse, as well as her encounters, friendships, and liaisons with famous contemporaries, made her in public and scholarly discourses into something of an icon. This icon status and the “clear autobiographical dimension” in her work fueled biographical scholarly approaches to Schwarzenbach's oeuvre after its rediscovery in 1987 (Schwelle, 404) after “her name [had] faded into obscurity” following her death.