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Our understanding of the histories and practices of photography is changing as more and more critical attention is being paid to photographic cultures from outside of Europe and North America, and to new forms and functions emergent in a variety of contemporary social and political contexts and digital formats. This conference will bring together up to forty scholars, photographers, curators and archivists from around the world in order to undertake new explorations of photography’s past and its present.
Models for global, regional and local histories of photography are being rethought as a growing number of case studies develop our knowledge of previously unexamined or little known traditions as well as individual photographers. New visual vocabularies and practices are being constructed in vernacular, documentary and fine art forms; the same vocabularies and practices can also challenge these very categories and are often characterized by a turn to local histories and mythologies and personal experiences and needs. Emergent nations and cultural groups are using photography to construct their own histories and a sense of shared cultural heritage. At the same time, both photographers and photographs increasingly move between cultures, and the space between the local and the global has become a space of situatedness in its own right.
Documentary photography has been the object of critique but photography committed to human rights or ‘peace photography’ is thriving – not just in new forms but also through new strategies of intervention. The concern with aesthetics has similarly been out of favor in some quarters but there is also a renewed interest in the relationship of aesthetics and ethics.
In such contexts, the work of archives, galleries, photo agencies, festivals and other cultural organizations committed to the photographic image is more important than ever, as is the role of visual education. Where there is little state support for photography, such institutions often carry the responsibility for creating, preserving and disseminating photographic culture.
These are some of the areas and issues the conference aims to examine. The conference will focus in particular on the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. However, work about and from other regions is also welcomed, as are suggestions for other topics.
We invite both scholarly papers as well as presentations by those working with photography outside the academy.
The organizers plan to publish a volume of selected papers and presentations.
In addition, we would like to gather together important and previously un-translated writings on photography from the non-English-speaking world with a view of publishing an anthology in English. We would very much welcome suggestions and contributions in this area.
Funding & Organization:
All travel, accommodation and subsistence expenses will be covered for all participants presenting at the conference.
The conference is funded and hosted by the New York University Abu Dhabi Institute. It is organized in collaboration with the Arab Image Foundation.
Associate Professor of Literature & Visual Studies, NYUAD, and Director of Akkasah: Center for Photography at NYUAD.
Professor of Middle East History and Member, Arab Image Foundation
3 October 2014
Arts and Humanities, New York University Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Photography’s Shifting Terrain: Emerging Histories & New Practices
8-10 March 2015
New York University Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi, UAE
The conference is funded and hosted by
the New York University Abu Dhabi Institute
Organized in collaboration with
the Arab Image Foundation
Call for papers and presentations
Deadline: 3 October 2014