Call for Papers: Photography and Migration

Call for Papers: Photography and Migration

April 24-25, 2015

Colby College, Waterville, ME

On April 24-25, 2015, scholars, artists, students, and members of the Waterville community will come together at Colby College to interrogate the relationship between photography and migration. This conference is one of many events taking place at Colby that address the college-wide humanities theme in 2014-2015, “Migrations,” hosted by the Center for the Arts and Humanities. It will include formal presentations and roundtable discussions, film screenings, as well as displays of historical photographs and artworks.

Throughout its history, the photographic medium has played an important role in the movement of people, objects, identities, and ideas across time and space, especially in the human crossing of geographical and cultural borders. Scholars have shown how cameras documented, enabled, or controlled such forced and voluntary movement, while photographers attempted to put a face on immigration around the world, making visible its associations with transition, displacement, hardship, and opportunity. The goal of the conference is to consolidate and expand upon the critical questions asked about photography and migration. What does it mean, for instance, to represent photographically the experiences of immigration, exile, diaspora, and passing? How might we reimagine concepts essential to migration, such as (im)mobility and dissemination, in specifically photographic terms? How do photographs themselves, moreover, migrate across local, regional, national, and global contexts?

Confirmed keynote speakers include: Anthony Lee (Mount Holyoke College), who will discuss the art photography of F. Holland Day in relation to period discourse on immigration; anthropologist Jason De León (University of Michigan) and photographer Michael Wells, who have collaborated on the Undocumented Migration Project on the US-Mexico border; and Thomas Allen Harris, a New York-based writer and documentarian who co-founded the Digital Diaspora Family Reunion project and directed the critically acclaimed film Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People (2013).

To stimulate lively and productive exchanges during the conference, we are soliciting proposals for 10-minute presentations from scholars, curators, image-makers, and others that highlight major questions about photography and migration. Following each presentation will be a short response by a discussant from Colby College and 20 minutes of conversation with the audience. We are looking for proposals that address directly the theme of the conference; foreground their own critical and creative interventions; and engage deeply with a set of images, or even a single image.

Please submit the following materials to Tanya Sheehan, Associate Professor, Department of Art, Colby College, by December 15, 2014:

–Cover letter; please include your contact information and explain your interest in the conference theme

–Abstract; no more than 200 words, including a working title for your presentation

–Professional bio; no more than 100 words

–Curriculum vitae

Decisions on proposals will be made by January 15, 2015. Details about the conference will be posted to

This conference is sponsored by the Colby College Center for the Arts and Humanities, Colby College Museum of Art, and Colby Libraries Special Collections. For more information about the college’s annual humanities theme, please go to


Photo credit: Alfred Hugh Fisher, Emigrants on Empress of Britain, 1908, courtesy the University of Cambridge library.