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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Professor David Campbell: Sighting Sudan - Photography from the Colonial Period to the Conflict in Darfur

11th March 2009, 17:30 to 18:30, Room 21, Pemberton Building, Palace Green

IAS Public Lecture

This lecture will explore the way visuality, in the form of photography as a technology of visualization, is pivotal to the production of contemporary geopolitics. This requires an understanding of photography generally, but the focus will be on the photographic genres understood as documenting and reporting on global events.

Exploring photography’s role in the historical production of Sudan – without proposing a visual history of Sudan – will locate the conceptual questions in a specific geopolitical location. As Africa’s largest country, the site of its longest running conflict and a place subject to a range of interventions from the 19th century colonial period under the British to 21st century concern about war crimes in Darfur, Sudan offers a rich case for examining the visual enactment of ‘Africa’ in the European imagination.

In this lecture, episodes in photography that intersect with Sudan will be explored, including British colonial photography, George Rodger’s and Leni Riefenstahl’s work with the Nuba, the photojournalism of famine in the 1990s, and the visual documentation of the conflict in Darfur since 2003. Together these episodes will tell a story about geopolitics, visuality and the possibility of an ethical response to distant people and places.

David Campbell is Professor of Cultural and Political Geography at Durham University and is currently a Distinguished Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study. His research is organised around three main areas, with the main focus being on visual culture and international politics (especially photography and the representation of atrocity, famine and war). He is also interested in political theory and global geopolitics (informed by poststructuralist philosophy and concerned with questions identity, borders, representation, and responsibility), and US foreign and security policy. Professor Campbell is currently working on book that is concerned with how the dominant pictorial representations of atrocity, famine and war are produced in the global image economy.


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