Reframing Family Photography

Our conference, held on September 21-23, 2017, brought together over 120 scholars, practitioners, curators and students from Canada, the U.S., Europe, Australia, India, Korea, and South Africa. In explored new ways of critically reframing family photography. In the course of an absorbing and intense three days, we explored and historicized family photographs in the contexts of violence, migration, and dislocation. Family photographs brought invoked nostalgia, pain, and pleasure. Sometimes all at once, and often for surprising reasons.

Our work together has allowed us to ask--and answer--questions such as: How might the reproduction and circulation of family photos, or their loss due to sudden or violent dislocation, help connect and constitute communities shaped as a result of internal and global migrations? How has the digital turn altered the look and meaning of family photographs? How might we situate family photography within a broader history of photography and within contemporary art? How might collection and archival practices, as well as research design, open up or foreclose, analysis of family photographs and the political work they do?

We were profoundly moved by the impassioned, engaged and smart research shared at the conference. From our conversations, we saw many threads emerge. As just a few: our ethical commitments as researchers; the tense and tender ties among scholars, curators, funders, archivists, narrators, and the subjects of photography; the affective dimensions of family photographs; the complex temporalities of these images, in their capacity to "picture us," thereby creating the conditions for aspiring to political change. We hope that this conference sparked a longer conversation and collaboration about "reframing family photography."

Photos: Mark Kasumovic.

Videographer: Katie Micak.