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Excavating Experience: Photographs and Difficult Histories

Elizabeth Edwards (PhotoCLEC, University of the Arts London)


East European Memory Studies Research Group Seminar
Wednesday 2 February, 5:00pm
CRASSH, Cambridge
ABSTRACT
This paper explores methodologies for thinking about photographs entangled in
difficult and contested histories. It explores ways in which a critical forensics can be
used in relation to photographs of everyday colonial encounter to suggest ways in
which photographs might reveal subjective experiences of events.
Drawing on methodologies developed in connection to Eastern European histories,
the paper is concerned with how we might find ways of thinking about photographs in
difficult histories, which do not simply stall us on questions of the limits of visual
representation, or in reductionist arguments of spectacle or gaze which deliver the
subject of the photograph as passive content. Rather it uses photographs to excavate
the subjective experience of people as social beings who experienced events for
which photographs have come to stand.