Seminar

Zeynep D. Gürsel: In and out of the Archive: An Ethnographic Approach to Photography

This seminar will introduce an ethnographic approach to photography and photographic archives through two case studies. Prof. Gürsel will first look at photographs sent by young Armenian men who had left for the Americas in the early 20th century back to families they left behind in the empire. She will focus not on the photographs of the men posing as successful immigrants, but rather on the intercepting hand of the state clearly visible on the reverse of these images. How does the specter of the state trouble these images and their representation of having made it as a migrant? Then she will step out of the archive and discuss her recent experiences taking historical photographs to the descendants of those in the images. More than a hundred years after the photographs were produced what kinds of family encounters do they generate? This second case study may be of particular interest to those who have followed Portraits of Unbelonging as a research project that Prof. Gürsel has presented on before at Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz.

    

Zeynep Devrim Gürsel is a media anthropologist and Associate Professor in the department of Anthropology at Rutgers University. Her scholarship involves both the analysis and production of images. She is the author of Image Brokers: Visualizing World News in the Age of Digital Circulation (University of California Press, 2016), an ethnography of the international photojournalism industry during its digitalization at the beginning of the 21st century, based on fieldwork conducted in the United States, France and Turkey. She is also the director of Coffee Futures, an award-winning ethnographic film that explores contemporary Turkish politics through the prism of the everyday practice of coffee fortune telling (www.coffeefuturesfilm.com). Currently she is researching photography as a tool of governmentality in the late Ottoman period. Specifically, she is investigating photography during the reign of Sultan Abdülhamit (1876–1909) from medical imagery to prison portraiture to understand emerging forms of the state and the changing contours of Ottoman subjecthood. During 2018–2019 she is a NOMIS Fellow at eikones Center for the Theory and History of the Image in Basel, Switzerland. While there she will be working on Portraits of Unbelonging, the first in-depth exploration of the official role of photography in the history of Armenian emigration to the United States.

Notice

This event will be documented photographically and/or recorded on video. Please let us know if you do not agree with the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz using images in which you might be recognizable for event documentation and public relation purposes (e.g. social media).

29 May 2019, 10:30am

Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max-Planck-Institut

Palazzo Grifoni Budini Gattai
Via dei Servi 51
50122 Firenze

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