Review of International American Studies
Vol. 16, Fall–Winter (2/2022)

Latin America and the Event of Photography

Edited by: Justin Michael Battin & German A. Duarte (guest editor)

Across Latin America and the Caribbean, photographs have been used as referential points to formulate a country’s national identity, as intimate and commemorative artifacts for Day of the Dead celebrations, as anthropological documentations of indigenous peoples, mixed races, and criminals, categories which have been used as mechanisms for exclusion. The practice of photography, more broadly, has also been used as a means to document violence, which is typically presented ethnographically through both realist and sensationalist lenses.

Discourses of photography have, since the medium’s emergence, typically embarked with a Cartesian character, in which links between thinking and seeing, and visual perception and certainty, are forged. This perspective has imbued in photography a certain objectivity, wherein an author utilizes a technical instrument to produce a representation of a thing. Through this Cartesian understanding, the author is rendered not as a subjective framer, an entity who deliberately constructs the world, but rather as a detached observer who creates a notation of reality afforded by his or her technical device. Although this notion has persistently endured, it has been challenged, perhaps most prominently by Susan Sontag who argued that a photographer intrinsically possesses a certain bias, which presences in framing strategies and chosen subject matter. These interpretations of the medium, still pervasive today, have significantly influenced how Latin America and the Caribbean are perceived across social imaginaries.

More recently, however, Ariella Azoulay has shifted priority away from the “photographed event,” or that which has been captured, and instead towards the “event of photography,” a term emphasizing the temporal moment when a photographer, photographed subject, and camera encounter one another. With this interpretation, she positions photographs as historical documents and advocates for photography as a civil and political matter, thus inviting new possibilities to read political life through its visual dimension, as well as to trace different forms of power relations made evident during the event.

This issue seeks 400-word abstracts that use the “event of photography” framework, or other paradigms highlighting the power dynamics between photography participants and how they materialize through engagement, to explore, in a Latin American context:

Photographic ontologies
Photographic practice and curation as storytelling
Photographic practice and the tourist gaze
Phenomenological accounts of the photographic practice
Implications of photography as “objective” and western prioritization of the object-image
Photography as transmedia artifact
Photography and intersectional representation
Photography and topographic correlations
Photography and collective memory
Photography and civil imagination

All abstracts should be submitted to the OJS system by Dec. 31, 2021. Abstracts should include with 5 keywords, a short biography, the author’s affiliation and ORCID number, and use MLA Style, 8th edition. Technical information for photos will accompany the acceptance of abstracts.