Photo Archives VII: The Majority World

Organized by Akkasah, the Center for Photography at New York University Abu Dhabi, in collaboration with the Photothek of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max Planck Institute

A Family Group, circa 1930s. Photographer Unknown. Courtesy of the Akkasah: Center for Photography. Yasser Alwan Collection, AD_MC_002_ref254

The archive has become an object of sustained historical and theoretical investigation in recent years. The anthropological turn in photographic criticism has opened up new directions for the analysis and understanding of photo archives that complement and dialogue with more traditional Art Historical approaches focused on photographs as images; it has helped direct this growing interest towards the materiality of the photograph as object, and its social and institutional lives that unfold very often within the archival ecosystem. At the same time, an ever-increasing number of scholars, artists and curators are addressing the neglected histories and practices of photography beyond the borders of Europe and North America. This conference aims to build upon these developments and reorientations, and to attend to issues of critical importance for photo archives from the part of the world that Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam has so aptly referred to as the "majority world." The conference will be the seventh in the series "Photo Archives," a series that helped over a number of years to establish an international network of photo archive scholars and archive professionals, and to stimulate a dialogue between academics and archivists.

Papers will engage with the historical, social, institutional and theoretical aspects of photo archives in conceptually and critically innovative ways, moving beyond primarily descriptive accounts of the evolution or contents of particular archives, or a restricted preoccupation with archiving technologies and procedures. Contributions will combine a focus on case studies with a broader theoretical and cultural scope, a diversity of critical approaches and disciplinary range. We hope the conference will provide a meeting place for a truly international community for individuals and institutions committed not only to a better understanding of photo archives, but to exploring their epistemological potentials and to developing international dialogues and strategies that can ensure sustainable and creative futures for these archives.



Shahidul Alam, Pathshala South Asian Media Institute and Drik Picture Library, Bangladesh


Zeinab Azarbadegan, Columbia University, USA - Rodrigo Porto Bozzetti, Instituto Moreira Salles, Brazil - Liam Buckley, James Madison University, USA - Özge Calafato, NYU Abu Dhabi, UAE & University of Amsterdam, Netherlands - Ping-Heng Chen, Heidelberg University, Germany - Ahmet A. Ersoy, Boğaziçi University, Turkey - Deniz Türker, University of Cambridge, UK - Zoé E. Headley, Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), France - Jessica Holland, American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR), Jordan - Christopher Morton, Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, UK - Giulia Paoletti, University of Virginia, USA - Jürg Schneider, University of Basel, Switzerland - Deborah Schultz, Regent's University London, UK - Ibrahim Ali, The Ministry of Antiquities, Egypt - Rebecca Stein, Duke University, USA - Kylie Thomas, Netherlands Institute for War Holocaust and Genocide Studies (NIOD), Netherlands & University of the Free State, South Africa - Sary Zananiri, Leiden University, Netherlands

Organized by

Shamoon Zamir, Professor of Literature and Art History, Director of Akkasah: Center for Photography at New York University Abu Dhabi; Costanza Caraffa, Director of the Photothek, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, Max Planck Institute

Advisory Panel

Özge Calafato, Akkasah: Center for Photography at New York University Abu Dhabi, Zeynep D. Gürsel, Rutgers University, Rosalind Morris, Columbia University, Issam Nassar, Illinois State University


Additional information

Akkasah was established in 2014 and is home to an archive of the photographic heritage of the Middle East and North Africa. The Center is dedicated to documenting and preserving the diverse histories and practices of photography from the region, and its growing archive contains at present over 60,000 images. Akkasah undertakes and supports research on Middle Eastern and North African photography, as well as on cross-cultural and transnational aspects of photography, through conferences, colloquia and publications, and through the research fellowship program of the NYUAD Institute. It also commissions new documentary projects from contemporary photographers that are archived alongside the Center's historical collections, and it is establishing a special collection of photographic albums, as well as of original photobooks from around the world. (For more, see: http://akkasah.org/)

Villa La Pietra will host the conference. La Pietra is a renaissance villa in the hills outside Florence, in Tuscany in central Italy. It was formerly the home of Hortense Mitchell and Arthur Acton and later of their son Harold Acton, on whose death in 1994 it was bequeathed to New York University. The villa is now home to NYU Florence. (See: https://lapietra.nyu.edu/)


in Kooperation mit

24. – 25. Oktober 2019

Villa La Pietra – New York University Florence

Via Bolognese 120
50139 Firenze


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