Discovering “Peripheries”: Photographic Histories in Central and Eastern Europe
31st May – 1st June 2016, WARSAW, POLAND

CALL FOR PAPER (pdf version)

Keynote speakers:
professor Ewa Manikowska, Institue of Arts, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
dr Eva Pluhařová-Grigienė, Institut für Kunst- und Bildgeschichte, Humboldt-Universität, Berlin, Germany
dr Gil Pasternak, Photographic History Research Centre, De Montfort University, Leicester, United Kingdom

Society “Liber pro arte” in collaboration with Polish Association of Photography Historians and a yearly journal “Dagerotyp” is organizing an international conference Discovering “Peripheries”: Photographic Histories in Central and Eastern Europe which aims to explore the wealth of photographic practices in the region now commonly referred to as the former Communist bloc. As, generally speaking, photography in this part of the world has been understudied, the conference intends to promote discussion on its cultural, social and political characteristics in contexts such as national and state ideology, art, museums, education, business, everyday life and journalism.

Since the end of the 1970s research on photography has grown intensively mainly in Western Europe and the United States of America. Some scholars in these environments moved away from canonical art historical approaches to photography, to its consideration in relation to diverse cultural, political and social practices and aspirations. This paradigm shift has opened up the possibility of studying photography in a more global context. Yet, post-canonical literature on photography in Central and Eastern Europe is currently still relatively sparse.

Throughout the nineteenth century, most of this region’s countries did not exist as independent states, and after the Second World War they fell under the Communist regime. Thus some particular sociopolitical and economic structures developed within these countries, determining cultural values and behaviors therein.

How then such historical circumstances might have affected the ways in which Central and Eastern Europeans practice, use, exploit, present, share and think about photography? In response to this question, we invite proposals for 20 minute papers from scholars who explore the broadest possible range of historical and current photographic practices in Central and Eastern Europe. We are particularly interested in extending the empirical, theoretical and historiographic base of photographic histories about this area, in comparison to Western (or other non-regional) approaches or regardless of them.

Speakers may wish to consider subject matters such as: photographic public displays, photography exhibitions, printed press, photobooks, propaganda, domestic photography, the politics of local archives and museums, local photographic theories and historiographies, and others. Possible questions may, but are not limited to include:

  • How photography has assisted in shaping local national identities?
  • How art photography has reflected regional social and political processes? Has it also assisted in forming and transforming them?
  • What local canonical histories of photography circulate in Central and Eastern European countries, and what theoretical aspirations have informed their making?
  • What and how cross-cultural photographic knowledge exchanges have contributed to the emergence of local photographic practices?
  • How regionally specific photographic businesses, industries and manufactures participated in culture and local politics?
  • What and how research methods and methodologies may help develop innovative empirical studies of photography in the region?
  • How writings on photography compare in different Central and Eastern European countries?

Proposals of no more than 300 words should be sent by 15 February 2016 to Please use this form. We will inform applicants whether their proposals have been successful by 28 February 2016.
Successful applicants may be offered the opportunity to contribute an extended version of a their conference paper to a book publication on the conference topic. We will require essays of 7000-8000 words including bibliography and endnotes by 15 September 2016.
The participation fee is 200 PLN including tea, coffee, refreshments and lunch. Registration fee do not cover fares or accommodation.
In case of any questions, please contact