[S-fotografie] Conference: Photographing Asia: Images of Russia’s orient and the Far East in the 19th and 20th centuries

Noiret, Serge Serge.Noiret a EUI.eu
Lun 2 Feb 2015 12:24:43 CET


Deadline: 15 February 2015

Organizers:

Laura Elias, University of Basel, laura.elias a unibas.ch<mailto:laura.elias a unibas.ch>
Andreas Renner, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich, andreas.renner a lmu.de<mailto:andreas.renner a lmu.de>

With its recent remarkable exhibition on the photographic discovery of Asia, the reopened Museum of East Asian Art in Cologne focused on how photography was introduced to Asia by European travellers and was soon adapted by non-Europeans who then quickly learned how photographs of Asia could loosen the European purse strings. The museum's exhibits followed the camera's triumph from Istanbul to India, from South-East Asia to Yokohama, while disregarding the entire Northern Asia. And yet, the photographic discovery of a region that once belonged to Tsarist Russia and later to the USSR has been quite well documented. Since the mid-19th century, explorers, tourists, and later photo journalists have also been creating an impressive photographic image of Russia's Asia.

The Russian view of the Asian territories within the borders of the Tsarist Empire or Soviet Union is the main focus of our conference. In what context were the pictures taken, how were they perceived? What images of Asian Russia were constructed on the basis of such photographic depictions? Can those images be classed with a model of visual orientalism or was there a typical Russian view of Asia? What role did the photographers from the Asian territories play and how did photography develop there in comparison with and contestation with the centre of the empire?

Russia's Asia did not end at the far-east borders of the Tsarist Empire or the USSR, though. “Exotic” areas like China or Japan fascinated Russian and Soviet photographers and their recipients. Thus the second emphasis should be on how the photographic construction of the Far East differed from the oriental depictions within their own borders, and how travelling photographers from non-Russian Asia perceived the Asian parts of the Tsarist Empire in the USSR.

A third focus will be put on photographers and their photographic infrastructures. The Cologne show also referred to the Russian travellers as being among those who paved the way for photographing Asia. Some of them were emissaries of the Tsar and had taken the first camera to the Persian Court in as early as 1842. Only a few years later, Russian photographers started their systematic discoveries of the empire's Asian territories. Some of their photos (e.g. the Turkestan album of 1872 - or later- the picture stories by the Soviet photographer Maks Al'pert) were renowned beyond the national borders. And yet, their diachronic placement in other photographic series as well as their synchronic connection with contemporary (stylistic to political) demands and (medial or social) impacts have only been insufficiently studied. However, this is a basic prerequisite for advancing to an analysis of images of Asia based on photographs taken in Asia.

The conference will certainly not exhaust all the afore-mentioned issues. They should offer new perspectives on the history of photography in Russia regarding individual photographers, recurrent motifs, exhibitions or societies. Furthermore, our idea is to take stock of an expanding (and expandable) field of research and to create networks. Thus we explicitly invite pre-docs and post-docs to present their projects. For an inspiring and intensive discussion it is essential that you hand in your papers by no later than 4 weeks before the conference and limit yourselves to a maximum of 15 minutes' speaking time in Munich. We welcome participants working in the history of photography and related/compatible disciplines. Please hand in your proposals (one page) and short CVs by 15 February 2015. The Conference language will be English. Currently we cannot confirm full cost coverage but we do hope that we can reimburse (most of) your expenses.

Contact

Laura Elias
University of Basel
Departement of History
Kanonengasse 27
4051 Basel
Switzerland
laura.elias a unibas.ch<mailto:laura.elias a unibas.ch>

Prof. Dr. Andreas Renner
Graduate School for
East and Southeast European Studies
Ludwig Maximilians University Munich
Maria-Theresia-Str. 21
81675 Munich
Germany
andreas.renner a lmu.de<mailto:andreas.renner a lmu.de>

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