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.
Deborah A. Thomas is Professor of Anthropology and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Modern Blackness: Nationalism, Globalization, and the Politics of Culture in Jamaica (2004), Globalization and Race: Transformations in the Cultural Production of Blackness (2006) with Kamari Maxine Clarke, and Exceptional Violence: Embodied Citizenship in Transnational Jamaica (2011), all with Duke University Press. She is also co-director and co-producer of the films Bad Friday: Rastafari After Coral Gardens and Four Days in May, and she is the co-curator of a multi-media installation titled Bearing Witness: Four Days in West Kingston, which will open at the Penn Museum in November 2017.
Jack Halberstam is Professor of Gender Studies and English at Columbia University. Halberstam is the author of five books–most recently a short book titled Trans* with UC Press–and has written articles that have appeared in numerous journals, magazines, and collections. Halberstam is currently working on 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.
Nicole R. Fleetwood is an Associate Professor in the Department of American Studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She is the author of two books: Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality, and Blackness, which was the recipient of the 2012 Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize of the American Studies Association, and On Racial Icons: Blackness and the Public Imagination (Rutgers University Press, 2015). She is the recipient of fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research on Black Culture, and Whiting Foundation. Currently, she is completing her third book, Marking Time: Prison Art and Public Culture, a study of visual art in the era of mass incarceration.