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School of Modern Languages and Cultures: Hispanic Studies

Staff in the Department of Hispanic Studies

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Publication details for Professor Andrea Noble

2010 'Recognizing Historical Injustice through Photography: Mexico 1968', Theory, Culture & Society 27, pp. 184-213

Author(s) from Durham


This article explores the role of photography in the global work of justice by way of a case study. It focuses on the publication, in December 2001, of a set of photographs by the Mexican newsweekly Proceso, depicting events that occurred in Mexico City on 2 October 1968. Taken at the culmination of a summer of student activism, when the military opened fire on student demonstrators and bystanders, the published photographs showed previously hidden scenes of detention and torture. Locating the publication of these photographs in relation to the historical processes of democratic reform in Mexico, the article aims to contribute to debates regarding the agency of photographic images in the visual politics of humanitarianism, shifting the emphasis away from questions of whether photographs work, to explore instead how they work. In particular, it focuses on the circumstances that authorized the simultaneous entry of the photographs of 1968 into the Mexican and international media spheres, and seeks to illuminate broader questions regarding their specifically photographic mode of address and the intersection between the national settings in which human rights abuses take place and testimonial appeals addressed to a global imagined community.