Reframing Family Photography Conference

September 21-23, 2017 in Toronto, ON




What is family photography? Scholars have often understood the genre as simply snapshots of domestic scenes—images that reflect and produce normative notions of family. Yet, family photographs are more complex than we think: they can also include images taken by a wide spectrum of producers, including the press and the state; they frequently circulate between private and public spheres, linking personal memories with national and even global histories; and, just as importantly, they don’t just illustrate families, but also shape the very idea of family in the contexts of race, gender, and sexuality. 

This conference will re-examine the genre and develop new ways of investigating the cultural politics of family photography. This critical task is all the more timely not just because of photography’s transformation with the digital turn, but also because of recent historical shifts that have altered the composition and very meaning of kinship--including Cold War dislocations, the visibility of queer and trans* family belonging, transnational adoptions, and immigration under the auspices of family reunification.



Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017

3:30-4:30          Registration // Lobby outside the ROM Theatre at the Royal Ontario Museum

4:30-6:00pm     Introduction// ROM Theatre

                         Deepali Dewan, Elspeth Brown, Thy Phu

                         Artists’ roundtable

  • Deanna Bowen
  • Jeff Thomas
  • Discussant: Thy Phu (Western University)
  • Moderators: Sarah Bassnett (Western University) + Jennifer Orpana (Royal Ontario Museum)

6:00-7:-00pm     Family Camera Exhibition and Opening Reception // Royal Ontario Museum

7:00pm               Dinner on your own.

Friday, Sept. 22, 2017

8:00-8:45am      Registration & Coffee // 
                           Lobby outside Campbell Conference Facility (CCF) at the Munk School (1 Devonshire Place)

8:45-9:00am      Welcome and introduction // CCF
                           Thy Phu (Western University)

9:00-11:00am     Plenary Session – Key Concepts Roundtable // CCF

  • Marianne Hirsch (Columbia University)
  • Martha Langford (Concordia University)
  • Deborah Willis (New York University)
  • Laura Wexler (Yale University)
  • Gayatri Gopinath (New York University)
  • Moderators: Elspeth Brown (University of Toronto) and Thy Phu (Western University)

11:00-11:15am      Coffee break // CCF Lounge

11:15-1:15am         Panel Sessions 1

                           Intimate Economies from Analogue to Digital Eras // Munk 023N

  • Chair: Anne Cibola (York University)
  • Ali Feser (University of Chicago), “Photochemical Kinship in the Image Capital of the World”
  • Sarah Brophy (McMaster University), “Angus McBean’s Queer Domestic Surrealism and a Prehistory of Selfie Culture”
  • Sophie Hackett (Art Gallery of Ontario) and Zun Lee (artist), “Zun Lee’s Fade Resistance”
    Discussant: Marlis Schweitzer (York University)

                           Feminizing Emotional Communities // Munk 108N

  • Chair: Charlene Heath (Ryerson University)
  • Sharon Sliwinski (Western University), “Photography—Our Mother Complex”
    Erina Duganne (Texas State University), “Family Photography and the Global Struggle for Human Rights”
  • Dot Tuer (OCAD University), “Talismans and Traces: State Terror, Absent Bodies and Reframing the Family Photograph”
  • Discussant: Laura Levin (York University)

                        (Post)Colonial Albums // // Munk 208N

  • Chair: Thierry Gervais (Ryerson University)
  • Candice Jansen (University of the Witwatersrand) “Vulnerabilities of the Image: Cedric Nunn and the Black Family in Struggle”
  • Sandrine Colard-De Bock (Columbia University), “Becoming the Bourgeois African in the Colonial Congo: Two Families in the Picture”
  • John Peffer (Ramapo College of New Jersey), “When a Photograph is Family: Thoughts on Audience and Image in Africa”
  • Discussant: Kevin Coleman (University of Toronto)

1:15-2:15              Lunch // CCF Lounge

 2:15-4:15            Panel Sessions 2

                           Extra-familial frames // Munk 023N

  • Chair: Siobhan Angus (York University)
  • Deborah Weinstein (Brown University), “Animals in Family Photographs”
  • Reilley Bishop-Stall(McGill University), “Friction and Familiarity in Family Albums: A Residential School Teacher’s Photographic Legacy”
  • Heather Diack (University of Miami), “We Are Family: Leslie Hewitt’s Riff’s On Real Time
  • Discussant: Matthew Brower

                           Visual Diasporas//  Munk 108N

  • Chair: Nicole Fleetwood (Rutgers University)
  • Leigh Raiford (University of California, Berkeley), “‘The Eldridge and Kathleen Cleaver Family Archive: African Diaspora Family Album in Exile, 1970-75:”
  • Lily Cho (York University), “Diaspora in the Darkroom: theorizing chromogenic process and ontologies of diasporic connection”
  • Sabeena Gadihoke (Jamia Millia Islamia), “The Partition in a Digital Age: An Archeology of Family Photographs through Absence and Presence”
  • Discussant: Bakirathi Mani (Swarthmore College)

                           Politicizing Family // Munk 208N

  • Chair: Gabrielle Moser (OCAD University)
  • Drew Thompson (Bard College), “Não há nada (“There is nothing”)”: The Absence of Retratos in Independent Mozambique”
  • Sharon Huebner (Monash University), “’It’s a resting place, where our spirits go’: Bringing back lost ancestor memories to Western Australia’s Southern – Noongar boodia”
  • Kimberly Juanita Brown (Mount Holyoke College), “Next of Kin: Photographic Mortevivum and the Violence of Proximity”
  • Discussant: Catherine Zuromskis (Rochester Institute of Technology)

4:15-4:30            Coffee break // CCF lounge

4:30-6:30          Plenary Session: Indigenous Kinships // CCF

  • Richard Hill (Emily Carr University), “Bring the Whole Family: Picturing Indigenous Kinship Networks under Capitalism”
  • Carol Payne (Carleton University), “Photography, Family, and Inuit Culture”
  • Moderator: Sarah Parsons

6:30                   Dinner on your own.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

8:30-9:00          Coffee & Registration // CCF          

9:00-11:00         Plenary Session: Collecting and Archiving Family Photographs // CCF

  • Fiona Kinsey (Museum Victoria, Australia)
  • Luce Lebart Canada (Canadian Photography Institute)
  • Mark Sealy (Autograph ABP, UK)
  • Rahaab Allana (Alkazi Collection, India)
  • Moderators: Elspeth Brown (University of Toronto) and Deepali Dewan (Royal Ontario Museum)

11:00-11:15           Coffee break // CCF lounge

11:15-1:15              Panel Sessions 3

                           Secrecy // Munk 023N

  • Chair: Sara Rozenberg (York University)
  • Sara Davidmann (University of the Arts, London), “Ken. To be destroyed”
  • Erin Gray (University of California, Irvine), “America’s ‘Concrete Universal’: Excising Lynching from The Family of Man”
  • Andrea Doucet (Brock University), “The ethics and aesthetics of remembrance in the aftermath of catastrophe”
  • Discussant: Richard Fung (OCAD University)

                           Masculinities // Munk 108N

  • Chair: Jordan Bear (University of Toronto)
  • Adria Imada (University of California, Irvine), “Dreaming in Pictures: “Family” Albums and Kinship during Medical Incarceration”
  • Sarah Parsons (York University), “Intimate Encounters: Performing Victorian Masculinities in the Studio”
  • Shawn Michelle Smith (School of the Art Institute of Chicago), “Too Many Men”
  • Discussant: Sarah Bassnett (Western University)

                           Cold War Generations // Munk 208N

  • Chair: Susan Meiselas (Magnum Foundation)
  • Iyko Day (Mount Holyoke College), “Nuclear Family Photography and Generational Memory”
  • Jung Joon Lee (Rhode Island School of Design), “Orphan Nation: Remembering the Korean War as Family-Nation”
  • Olivia Tait (University College London), “Kustlerehepaar: I.G.G.R.”
  • Discussant: Tong Lam (University of Toronto)

1:15-2:15              Lunch // CCF Lounge

 2:15-4:15            Panel Sessions 2

                           Akin: Conventions of Childhood // Munk 023N

  • Chair: Martha Langford (Concordia University)
  • Jennifer Orpana (Royal Ontario Museum), “Childhood Snapshots: Transnational Conventions in Family Photography”
  • Daniel Magilow (University of Tennessee, Knoxville), “Cute Jews: On Nahum Gidal’s Judische Kinder in Erez Israel Ein Photobuch
  • LiLi Johnson (Yale University), “Photographic Conceptions: Referral Photography and the Family Album in Chinese Transnational Adoption”
  • Discussant: Marianne Hirsch

                           Hauntings // Munk 108N

  • Chair: Laura Wexler (Yale University)
  • Jeehey Kim (Independent Scholar, Korea), “Funerary Portrait Photography and Ghost/Spirit Marriage in East Asia”
  • Autumn Womack (Princeton University), “What of the Family of the Dead?: The Family Photograph as Lynching Photography”
  • Franny Nudelman (Carleton University), “Reframing Postmortem Photography: Tim Hetherington’s ‘Sleeping Soldiers’”
  • Discussant: Evie Gu (University of Toronto)

                           Racialized Citizenship and Non-citizenship // Munk 208N

  • Chair: Sara Blair (University of Michigan)
  • Gabrielle Moser (OCAD University), “Familial Ties and Citizen Claims: Photography, Race and Citizenship in African Canadian Newspapers”
  • Julia Lum (Yale University), “Narrating Visibility: Chinese Canadian Family Photography and the Exclusion Period, 1923-67”
  • Nadine Attewell (McMaster University), “Intimations of Abundance: Working-Class Family Photography and the Look of Mixed Race”
  • Discussant: Gayatri Gopinath (New York University)

4:15-4:30             Coffee break // CCF lounge

4:30-6:30           Plenary Session: Reframing Family in Colonial and Carceral Contexts // CCF

  • Tina Campt (Barnard College)
  • Nicole Fleetwood (Rutgers University)
  • Moderator: Julie Crooks (Art Gallery of Ontario)

6:30-6:45           Concluding remarks // CCF

  • Thy Phu (Western University)
  • Elspeth Brown (University of Toronto)
  • Deepali Dewan (University of Toronto & Royal Ontario Museum)

7:30                    Closing Banquet // The Host

  • Pre-registration required
  • Meet at The Host: Fine Indian Cuisine, 14 Prince Arthur Avenue


General Information

All the plenary sessions will take place at the Munk Centre’s Campbell Conference Facility (CCF), which is in the southern wing of the Munk Centre, towards the front of the building. Outside this space is a lobby; this is where registration will be, as well as coffee breaks and lunches.

The concurrent sessions will take place in three seminar rooms (Munk 023N, Munk 108N, Munk 208N) in the northern wing of the Munk Centre. There will be staff and volunteers to direct you to these destinations, as well as signage. We have also reserved a lounge space on the second floor of the North Wing for your convenience.   

Activities on Thursday evening will be held at the Royal Ontario Museum. The artist roundtable will be in the ROM Theatre, near the Queen’s Park Avenue entrance. Registration will take place in the hallway outside the theatre. Volunteers will direct you upstairs to the exhibition space for the opening reception.

The Saturday night gala dinner will be at The Host: Fine Indian Cuisine, a nearby restaurant. The Host is located one block away from the InterContinental Hotel at 14 Prince Arthur Avenue. If you have signed up for this dinner, please bring your Eventbrite ticket.


For the conference, we have selected the InterContinental (Yorkville) as our hotel. For booking and more information, visit We have negotiated a rate of $269 CAD/night + tax for conference participants – please note that the Group Code is: IA9. This hotel has set aside a block of rooms for us, but only temporarily, so we recommend that you reserve your room as soon as possible.

Transit Information

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is the public transportation authority in Toronto. The closest subway stop to the Munk School is St. George Station (enter/exit at Bedford Road). Cash fare is $3.25, while tokens can be purchased for $3.00 (Must purchase a minimum 3 tokens - $9.00). A day pass costs $12.50. For more information:

If you are going to and from the airport, we recommend taking the Union-Pearson Express, a lightrail train that takes 25 minutes to travel from Union Station to Pearson Airport for $12. For more information: For taxis, we recommend either Beck Taxi (416-751-5555) or Co-op (416-504-2667)

Thank you to all of the participants, researchers, funders and volunteers who have supported the Family Camera Network and made this conference a success.


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