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Photography and Academic Research: Images in the Post-Truth Era



Birkbeck College, University of London 6-8 September 2018

Conference: Photography + (Con)text

Donald Trump’s presidency began with a battle over images. Photographs had been reframed, his administration insisted, to detract from the largest inauguration crowd in history. When images of the 2009 inauguration showed otherwise, the new administration refused to back down. The production of knowledge in photography has been much debated, yet with little emphasis on the agents involved in this exchange and the production process. Building on Photography in Academic Research, an international event organised by Photography + (Con) Text at UCL in September 2016, this conference will address and critically discuss the power struggles between the photographer and the photographed in a world where these two roles are constantly interchangeable. It will draw on the history of photography to interrogate claims that photography finds itself in a changed socio-political context. Through roundtables, research panels, workshops and networking opportunities, this interdisciplinary event will promote collaboration and exchange between social researchers who use photography in their research and practitioners. It will serve as a space for photography, encouraging its uses, analyses and practices in social research and art.

The keynote speakers for this conference are Steve Edwards (Professor of History & Theory of Photography at Birkbeck) and Sarah Walpole (Royal Anthropological Institute) in conversation with Barbara Knorpp (Brunel University).

This event is organised by Birkbeck’s Departments of PoliticsCultures and LanguagesGeography and History of Art, the Derek Jarman Lab, the Centre for Iberian and Latin and American Visual Studies and the History and Theory of Photography Research Centre with the support of the Birkbeck Institute for Social ResearchBirkbeck Institute for the Humanities and the The Royal Anthropological Institute.

Conference Programme and Registration

The call for papers is now closed but non-paper givers are welcome to register for the conference. To register for the conference as a presenter or participant please see here.

The final conference programme is available here. Abstracts for Friday and Saturday are available here and here.

Practical information

Conference Venue

Birkbeck is located in London’s Bloomsbury area. It is close to Tube and mainline rail stations, including Russell Square, Tottenham Court Road, King's Cross/St Pancras and Euston.

The registration desk will be located on Level -1 of Birkbeck’s Clore Management Centre, Torrington Square, Bloomsbury, London, WC1E 7JL

Jo Spence: The Feminist Photography of a Cultural Sniper

Jo Spence was a British writer, educator and photographer – although she was quite ambivalent about being termed an ‘artist’. In fact, she much preferred to call herself a ‘Cultural Sniper’. But instead of brandishing a gun, Spence used her camera to shoot and expose issues in culture.

One of the first woman photographers to confront the anxiety of seeing oneself in photographs, this HENI Talk explores how Spence targeted the media’s representation of women – always coded as young, plucked and perfectly made-up – by laying her own body on the line.

Learn more.