Research projects
Photo library
Go to Homepage
Photo Archives IV: The Photographic Archive and the Idea of Nation
International Conference

Organised by Costanza Caraffa (Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max-Planck-Institut) and Tiziana Serena (Università degli Studi di Firenze)
Scientific Committee: Costanza Caraffa, Elizabeth Edwards (University of London, LCC), Joan M. Schwartz (Queen's University, Kingston), Tiziana Serena

The 'long 19th century', identified in the West with the age of the rise of nation states, is also the century of the 'invention' and diffusion of photography, as well as the birth of modern archival science. Photography was soon placed at the service of the iconic needs of nation states. The photographic collections and archives, both public and private, founded between the second half of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, thus had the function of restoring and creating the fragmented image of the nation, on the one hand, and helping to construct the image of a nation, on the other. Yet the problem of the representation of the national identity is clearly not limited to this period. Following the Second World War, the subsequent disintegration of the world colonial system, and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the national question was once again placed at the centre of attention but now in a planetary dimension. The debate of the contemporary world is thus torn between globalization and forms of national, or even sub-national, particularism. It is also having to face the question of the proliferation of images in a globalized world, in the age of digital media and internet, with its simplification of production (or over-production) of images and access to them. Despite these changing historical conditions, however, photographs have continued, and will continue, to be gathered in collections and archives, with the aim of giving visual substance to the image world of the national identity, and contributing to its formation.

The conference is aimed at studying the relation between photography or photographic archives and the idea of nation, yet without focusing on single symbolic icons and considering instead the wider archival and sedimental dimension.

The conference forms part of a series of international meetings dedicated to photographic archives and the interaction between photography and the academic and scientific disciplines, with a particular focus on the history of art. After London (June 2009), Florence (October 2009) and New York (March 25-26, 2011), the fourth meeting in the series will once again be held in Florence (October 27-29, 2011).


October 27th, 2011 to October 29th, 2011


Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max-Planck-Institut
Fototeca - Palazzo Grifoni
Via dei Servi 51
50122 Firenze


Dr. Costanza Caraffa

Program pdf/c20111027.pdf

Further information

Abstracts of the participants

Photo Archives and the Photographic Memory of Art History, ed. by Costanza Caraffa, Berlin etc. 2011

Internationale Conference "Photo Archives - Part I"

Internationale Conference "Photo Archives - Part II"

Internationale Conference "Photo Archives - Part III"
< back
Print this page
Go to MPG Homepage