Listening to Images: A Salon in Honor of Tina Campt

Tina Campt, Rizvana Bradley, Jack Halberstam, Christina Sharpe, and Deborah Thomas

Listening to Images by Tina Campt (entire cover)What happens when we shift our way of engaging with photography? When we go beyond looking at images and, instead, listen to them? Tina Campt, director of the Barnard Center for Research on Women, delves into lost archives of historically dismissed photographs to deepen our understanding of the lives of black subjects throughout the black diaspora. Campt invites us to open our ears to photographs of rural African women in the late 19th-century and 1960s mug shots of the Freedom Riders, and to hear in them the quiet intensity and quotidian practices of refusal. Originally intended to dehumanize, police, and restrict their subjects, these photographs convey the softly buzzing tension of colonialism, the low hum of resistance and subversion, and the anticipation of a boldly imagined and more just future.


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About the Speakers


Tina Campt is Claire Tow and Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Africana and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies, Director of the Barnard Center for Research on Women, and Chair of the Africana Studies Department at Barnard. Campt joined the Barnard faculty in 2010, prior to which she held faculty positions at Duke University, the University of California-Santa Cruz and the Technical University of Berlin. Originally trained in modern German history at Cornell University, Professor Campt’s published work explores gender, racial and diasporic formation in black communities in Germany, and Europe more broadly. She is the author of three books. Other Germans: Black Germans and the Politics of Race, Gender and Memory in the Third Reich (University of Michigan Press, 2004) is a historical inquiry based on oral histories and archival documents that explores the experiences of Black Germans during the Third Reich. Image Matters: Archive, Photography and the African Diaspora in Europe (Duke University Press, 2012) theorizes the affects of family photography in early twentieth century Black German and Black British communities. Her most recent book, Listening to Images (Duke University Press, 2017) theorizes the everyday practices of refusal and fugitivity enacted in a frequently overlooked genre of black vernacular photographs she calls ‘quiet photography.’ Campt has edited special issues of Feminist Review, Callaloo and Small Axe, and together with Paul Gilroy, co-edited Der Black Atlantik (Haus der Kulturen der Welt, 2004), the first German language collection of key texts on the Black Atlantic. Professor Campt is the recipient of research grants and fellowships from the Leverhulme Trust, the American Association of University Women, The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Social Science Research Council, and the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities.

Rizvana Bradley received her PhD in Literature from Duke University in 2013, and her B.A. (Highest Honors) from Williams College, where she studied English and Political Theory.  She was a Helena Rubinstein Critical Studies Fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program in New York from 2012-2013.  Before coming to Yale, Bradley was as an Assistant Professor at Emory University, and a Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of the History of Art at the University College London. Born in Kenya, and raised in the U.K., Germany, Poland, Tanzania, and the U.S., Bradley’s research and teaching focus on the study of film and media at the intersections of contemporary art and performance (with a particular interest in the development of the moving image in relation to cinema).  Her scholarly approach to artistic practices in the fields of African-American cultural production, as well as the wider black diaspora expands and develops frameworks for thinking across these contexts, specifically in relation to global and transnational artistic and cinematic practices.

Bradley is currently at work on two new scholarly book projects. The first is a recipient of a Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant, and offers a critical examination of the black body across a range of experimental artistic practices that integrate film and other media.  The second project examines the relationships between newer forms of experimental film and video practices, and traditional film genres. Recent and forthcoming articles and essays have focused on Black British video artists and The Art of the Moving Image in Britain After 1989 (forthcoming, Yale University Press, 2018); the cinematic development of black dance forms in relation to the critical interrogation of the loss of gesture in the history of cinema (forthcoming, TDR: The Drama Review, MIT Press, 2017); British artist and director, Steve McQueen (Black Camera: An International Film Journal, Indiana University Press, 2015); the televised 1991 Anita Hill hearings and centrality of black femininity in reimagining the stakes of black embodiment (Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge: Special Issue: Black Holes: Afro-Pessimism, Blackness and the Discourses of Modernity, 2016); the relevance of film theorist Laura Marks’ notion of ‘hapticality’ or ‘haptic visuality’ for art and performance (Women and Performance: The Haptic, Routledge, 2015); Brazilian documentary filmmaker, Maria Beatriz Nascimento and the philosopher Édouard Glissant (Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture, Wayne State University Press, 2014).  Bradley’s writing has also been featured in Parkett, e-flux, and Art in America.

Christina Sharpe was an assistant professor of English at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY before coming to Tufts University in 1998. 

In 2001-2002, Sharpe received a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, and in fall 2002 Sharpe received a Tufts Junior Faculty research semester, both of which helped her work on the manuscript of her book, Monstrous Intimacies (Duke University Press, 2010). In 2016, Sharpe published In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (Duke University Press, 2016).

Jack Halberstam is a Professor of Gender Studies and English at Columbia University. Halberstam is the author of five books including: Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters (Duke UP, 1995), Female Masculinity (Duke UP, 1998), In A Queer Time and Place (NYU Press, 2005), The Queer Art of Failure (Duke UP, 2011) and Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal (Beacon Press, 2012) and has written articles that have appeared in numerous journals, magazines and collections. Halberstam has co-edited a number of anthologies including Posthuman Bodies with Ira Livingston (Indiana University Press, 1995) and a special issue of Social Text with Jose Munoz and David Eng titled “What’s Queer About Queer Studies Now?” Jack is a popular speaker and gives lectures around the country and internationally every year. Lecture topics include: queer failure, sex and media, subcultures, visual culture, gender variance, popular film, animation. Halberstam is currently working on several projects including a book titled WILD THING on queer anarchy, performance and protest culture, the visual representation of anarchy and the intersections between animality, the human and the environment. Halberstam is also finishing up a short book titled Trans* for UC Press, forthcoming in 2017.

Deborah Thomas (Ph.D. New York University 2000) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. Her first book, Modern Blackness: Nationalism, Globalization, and The Politics of Culture in Jamaica (Duke University Press, 2004), focused on the changing relationships among the political and cultural dimensions of nationalism, globalization, and popular culture. Thomas also co-edited the volume Globalization and Race: Transformations in the Cultural Production of Blackness (Duke University Press, 2006) with Kamari Clarke, a special issue of the journal Identities titled “Caribbeanist Anthropologies at the Crossroads” with Karla Slocum, and a special issue of Feminist Review called “Gendering Diaspora” with Tina M. Campt. Thomas is currently working on two research projects. The first explores the effects of a contract labor program developed by the Jamaican Ministry of Labour that sponsors the seasonal migration of Jamaican women for work in hotels throughout the United States. The second investigates the unprecedented eruption of gang violence in the Jamaican community where she has conducted research since 1996 and examines how this violence is related to broader patterns of violence in and beyond Jamaica. Prior to her life as an academic, she was a professional dancer with the New York-based Urban Bush Women. She was also a Program Director with the National Council for Research on Women, an international working alliance of women’s research and policy centers whose mission is to enhance the connections among research, policy analysis, advocacy, and innovative programming on behalf of women and girls.