Cold War Camera Conference, Guatemala

Cold War Camera

Guatemala City, February 20-23, 2014

Confirmed plenary speakers include Ariella Azoulay, Alberto del Castillo, and Nicholas Mirzoeff.

Photography plays a key role in the cultural politics of the Cold War and its aftermath, from its use in state surveillance operations; through its deployment in acts of resistance to state-sponsored terrorism; to its role in commemorative and on-going judicial processes. While scholars have begun to outline the visual cultural politics of the Cold War in regional and national contexts, there has yet to be a full exploration of the global, interconnected networks of production, circulation and reception of photography during this period. A full picture of how photography helped mediate a war that was prosecuted on multiple fronts requires the collaboration of scholars from multiple disciplines and wide-ranging historical expertise. The aim of this conference is to spark this scholarly network and collaboration. The Cold War Camera is a conference that brings together scholars from varied fields to trace how photography forges these intercultural links and mediates this global conflict.

Participants in this conference are invited to present 20-minute papers on a range of topics relating to the theme of the Cold War Camera, including but by no means limited to:

  • the enlistment of photos to prosecute a war with multiple ‘fronts’ across the globe
  • the under-theorized concept of visual propaganda
  • the development of a communist visual theory
  • photographs’ function within state-sponsored regimes of ‘anti-subversive’ terror
  • the role of photos in resisting this terror
  • links between desire and subversion
  • the relationship between the spectacle of war and the ordinariness of daily life 
  • zones of production and exhibition, from Havana to Moscow to Beijing
  • challenges of archival research and the impact of archives in constructing public histories and cultural memories

    Our call for papers is now closed. If interested in the conference program, please access it at the above link.



Contact info: Please submit all proposals, cvs, and inquiries to the conference organizers (Thy Phu and Andrea Noble) at under the subject heading “Cold War Camera conference.”

Organizers: This conference has developed out of a two year collaborative network between the Toronto Photography Seminar and Durham Centre for Advanced Photography Studies, which are funded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council respectively.

Publication plans: Participants in the conference are invited to adapt their presentations into a 500-word blog for the Cold War Camera website. Expanded papers from this conference may also be invited for consideration in a co-edited, peer-reviewed volume of essays.

Conference hotel: Information regarding the conference hotel will be posted September 30th, 2013.

Photo credit: courtesy of the Sovfoto Archive at the MacLaren Art Centre in Barrie, Ontario.