To enter the darkroom is to linger at the sites where photography’s stories come to light—and where they do not.  Here, the stories that draw us most are those that have at their centre figures from the margins: the disadvantaged, the dispossessed, and the disappeared, among many others. How might these shadowy figures be recognized? In what contexts do their photos circulate? What are the cultural functions of this circulation? These are some of the many questions to be spotlighted in the darkroom. To dwell here, then, is to reflect on ways of expanding how we see photographs, and how we account for the unseen in photography.

WHO is in the darkroom?

Thy Phu is an Associate Professor in the Department of English and Writing Studies at Western University, in London, Ontario, Canada, where she teaches courses on cultural studies, critical theory and American Studies. One of the original members of the long-running Toronto Photography Seminar, her research is funded by internal and external grants, including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Picturing Model Citizens: Civility and Citizenship in Asian American Visual Cultureher first book, explores the role of civility in compensating for citizenship in the visual representation of U.S. race relations. Feeling Photography, a collection of essays, co-edited with Elspeth Brown, is published by Duke University Press. She serves as Editor of the Americas region for the interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal Photography and Cultureand has co-edited special issues on “Circulation” (The History of Photography), and, in Photography and Culture, on the themes of “Affecting Photographies” and “Wasting Nature.” Her current research explores the history of 20th century Vietnamese photography.

Andrea Noble is Professor of Latin American Studies at the University of Durham, UK, where she specializes in visual culture studies and cultural history, particularly Mexican film and photography. She is a founding member of Durham Centre for Advance Photography Studies, which now forms part of Durham’s recently-formed Centre for Visual Arts and Cultures. Her work has been funded by the British Academy, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK) and the European Research Council. Her photography-related publications include Photography and Memory in Mexico: Icons of Revolution (University of Manchester Press, 2010), which traces the ‘life stories’ of some of the famous images made during the 1910 Revolution. She has also co-edited two essay collections: Phototextualities: Intersections of Photography and Narrative (University of New Mexico Press, 2003) and Photography: Theoretical Snapshots (Routledge, 2008). 

Her current research and writing projects include an exploration of the relationship between visual culture and social movements and conflict in Latin America. This research focuses on areas such as the status of the photo opportunity on behalf of human rights, and the role of the visual media in the so-called war on drugs in Mexico. It is concerned with the political, aesthetic and emotional work performed by such visual images as they circulate in the global iconosphere. This project is part of a wider collaborative network with colleagues from the Toronto Photography Seminar and was funded by a 2-year Arts and Humanities Research Council grant (2012–2014).