Research Symposium Description and Programme

“A woman protests against the presence of soldiers in the townships, Soweto 1985”, Photograph by Paul Weinberg

This research symposium invites reflection on photography as a medium of resistance and as a resistant medium. 

Photography and Resistance

Research Symposium

29th and 30th January 2019

Edward Street

University of Brighton, UK


In spite of the ways in which the camera has been deployed as a tool of surveillance
and domination, photography’s capacity for resistance eludes and exceeds the grasp
of power. “Exactly like citizenship, photography, is no one’s property” Ariella Azoulay
writes in her book, The Civil Contract of Photography, “It cannot be owned”. Even
when photography is banned and photographs censored, photographs emerge that
bring injustice to light. Photographs also resist the flattening out of history, for
although they can be endlessly reproduced, photographs return us to the specific
and the singular. At the same time photographs refuse cyclopic interpretation,
always calling to be read in a new light by different and multiple eyes. Photographs
make it possible not only for us to see time but to disrupt historical chronology. For
these and other reasons, photography remains a site of resistance.

This symposium is made possible through the British Academy Visiting
Fellowship grant awarded to Kylie Thomas for her research, “Picturing
Resistance: Visual Activism and Transnational Histories of
Photography”, with the support of the School of Humanities and the
Centre for Applied Philosophy, Politics and Ethics at the University
of Brighton. Dr Thomas’s research is funded by the British Academy’s
Visiting Fellowship Programme under the UK Government’s Rutherford
Fund

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