Photography has only recently been accepted in New Zealand as an art form and has arguably been largely neglected in historical academic study. While there is a growing body of popular literature and scholarship on photography in New Zealand, much of it is dedicated to recent art photography or is limited to individual photographers (i.e., it often follows art historical conventions that are often not entirely reconcilable with the broad range of photographic production). In order to stimulate interdisciplinary scholarly exchange about the specific challenges and issues that face the construction of a history of photography in New Zealand, a research symposium is being organised at the University of Otago to take place from 7-8 December 2007.
This symposium will have a pre-read format. Participants will submit their texts one month in advance of the symposium for distribution to the attendees. One intended outcome of the symposium will be an edited, peer-reviewed quality-assured anthology – either an edited volume or a special conference issue of an academic journal – that will serve as stimulus for further research, a valuable reference work, and a teaching tool for the study of photography in New Zealand. Rather than promoting a nationalist history of photography, the aim of this symposium is to simulate critical scholarship that will be both national and trans-national in nature.
Among the topics that may be addressed are:
Photographs brought by immigrants to New Zealand
Family photograph albums
Colonialism and Race in New Zealand photographs
Stereographs and lantern slides
The trade in photographs
Photographic materials and supplies
Photographically illustrated books and periodicals
The flow of photographers and images across the Tasman
Missionary photography (in both New Zealand the broader Pacific)
Contributors are asked to propose either a photograph or primary source document related to photography, which contributes to our understanding of the rise of photography in New Zealand or which illuminate some aspect of local photographic history in new or important ways. As sessions of the symposium will take place at the Hocken Collections and the Otago Settlers Museum, proposals drawing upon the collections of these institutions are especially encouraged. Each contributor will provide a short essay (1,500-3000 words) which should include discussion of the origin and context of their document and analysis of its representation or its illumination of place in New Zealand photographic history. Essays need not be definitive readings but rather may offer a variety of ways to read the visual or discuss changing and contradictory ways visual photographs have been read in the past and can be read now.
As we recognise that archivists, conservators, curators, and librarians play a key role in facilitating historical research into photography, we would also like to solicit case studies that address the challenges facing the scholarly study of photography in New Zealand (i.e., issues related to preservation, archives, training of specialists, etc.).
If you are interested in contributing to this symposium, please send us a short proposal (up to 300 words) describing your document or case study topic, your approach to the essay, and a note about difficulties you might expect in acquiring high quality images, as well as a one-page CV. Anticipating the possible publication of symposium contributions, we would also ask that each contributor take whatever steps necessary to obtain high quality images and to secure permission to reproduce the visual and written sources.
We would like to receive proposals by May 1 in order to select participants by June 1 and collect finished essays by November 1 for circulation prior to the symposium.
Please send your abstract and CV to firstname.lastname@example.org
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