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Temporality has long been a key conundrum for the photographic medium. Ongoing debates about photography’s relationship with reality, identity, historical subjectivity, capitalism, coloniality, the environment, and the unconscious all hinge on our understanding of how photographic images mediate and help construct our experiences of and ideas about time. This conference on Global Asias seeks to explore photography as a site of onto-epistemological praxis through which we can reconceptualize temporality and compel decolonial imagination. 

The easing of the Cold War produced a new opening for decolonial possibilities in recent decades, which calls for a critical re-examination of the legacy of colonialism and the Cold War across the former colonies and the imperial centers of past and present. Bearing in mind photography’s crucial role in this re-examination and suspending a fixed determination of what constitutes (counter-) temporality or decoloniality, we invite presentations from scholars of Global Asias broadly defined, specializing in media, anthropology, visual culture, art history, comparative literature, Asian studies, Asian-American studies, diasporic studies, and related fields. We seek to ask while taking into account photography’s malleability and re-deployability across contexts of art, politics, commerce, and everyday life,

  • How do decolonial efforts embrace or resist photography’s medium-specific properties and its demands on the temporal imagination of the colonizer and the colonized?
  • How might photography activate varied modes of temporality in reimagining intimacy and kinship with human and non-human agents toward decolonial ends?
  • How do counter-temporalities operate in migrant and diasporic contexts and resist empire’s knowledge/power nexus?
  • How do photography’s counter-temporalities undo the colonial relationality of difference-making and unleash alternative futurities?
  • What kinds of temporal disjuncture, conjuncture, or contingency can be found in photographs that capture, perform, or enact radical democracy and decolonization?
  • How do platforms of the exhibition and their transnational circulation shape multiple temporalities?
  • How does photographic imaging as a technology of control produce unexpected forms of temporality?
  • What is the relationship between recent efforts in photographic historiography to deconstruct the unity of photographic development as a linear teleological process and our search for temporalities that can durably instantiate decolonial projects and visions?

We also invite presenters to formulate their own line of inquiry that might weigh in on or intervenes productively in the framing of these questions.

Organized by

Jae Won Edward Chung (Rutgers University)
Jung Joon Lee (Rhode Island School of Design)
Sohl Lee (Stony Brook University)

Sponsored by 

Department of Asian Language and Cultures
Korean Studies Gift Fund
Center for Cultural Analysis
Mason Gross School of the Arts
Department of African, Middle Eastern, And South Asian Languages and Literature
Rhode Island School of Design Humanities Fund
Northeast Asia Council Conference Grant
Rutgers SAS Global Asias


Photograph credit: Kang Yong Suk, 동두천에서 (From Dongducheon), 1982, gelatin silver print. Courtesy of the artist.