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Antigua, Guatemala. February 20-23, 2014

Registration is now closed. 

Plenary speakers include Ariella Azoulay and Nicholas Mirzoeff.

Photography plays a key role in the cultural politics of the Cold War and its aftermath, from its use in state surveillance operations; through its deployment in acts of resistance to state-sponsored terrorism; to its role in commemorative and on-going judicial processes. While scholars have begun to outline the visual cultural politics of the Cold War in regional and national contexts, there has yet to be a full exploration of the global, interconnected networks of production, circulation and reception of photography during this period. A full picture of how photography helped mediate a war that was prosecuted on multiple fronts requires the collaboration of scholars from multiple disciplines and wide-ranging historical expertise. The aim of this conference is to spark this scholarly network and collaboration. The Cold War Camera is a conference that brings together scholars from varied fields to trace how photography forges these intercultural links and mediates this global conflict.


To shift critical discussion from the US-USSR binary, the conference will be held in Antigua, where CiRMA, one of the most important archives of Guatemalan history, is located. In 1954, the constitutionally elected president Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán was overthrown in a CIA-backed coup, plunging Guatemala into four decades of political violence. 200,000 citizens are believed to have been killed or disappeared. Guatemala represents an early case of CIA intervention, and training ground for further action in other, better known 'cold war' sites in the hemisphere, such as Cuba, Argentina, and Chile. For this reason, Guatemala is a critical location for investigating the global cultural significance of the Cold War Camera. 


December 15th, 2013. 10-page drafts of conference papers are due for circulation with co-panelists and discussants.

February 20th, 2014. Sites of Memory Tour, Guatemala City. Photographer and activist Daniel Hernández-Salazar kicks off the conference by coordinating a visit to important sites where photography helps memorialize the nation's turbulent and often violent history--one whose legacy is still present. Included among these sites are:

* The Museum of Martyrs from the Popular, Student and Union Movement 9am

* The DNA Laboratoty of the Guatemalan Forensic Foundation (FAFG) 9:30am

* The Bone Laboratory of the FAFG. 11:00am

The Guatemala National Police Historical Archive (AHPN). 14:00

The Catholic Church Human Rights Bureau (ODHAG) 16:00

Participants in this tour are asked to stay overnight in Guatemala City on February 19th, 2014 at the Hotel Panamerican. A shuttle will transport participants to the conference hotel in Antigua after dinner on Feb. 20th.

February 21st-22nd. Conference presentations begin at 9am on February 21st and the event ends with an evening banquet.

February 23rd. Buffet breakfast and free day. No presentations.



Contact info: Please submit all inquiries to the conference organizers (Thy Phu and Andrea Noble) at under the subject heading “Cold War Camera conference.”

Organizers: This conference has developed out of a two year collaborative network between the Toronto Photography Seminar (TPS) and Durham Centre for Advanced Photography Studies (DCAPS), which are funded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council respectively. TPS and DCAPS are coordinating with partner Centro de Investigaciones Regionales de Mesoamérica (CiRMA) to organize this project on the Cold War Camera. The co-organizers are also pleased to announce that internationally renowned photographer and leading activist Daniel Hernández-Salazar has agreed to serve as coordinator for the Sites of Memory Tour of Guatemala City, which will kick off the conference.

Publication plans: Participants in the conference are invited to adapt their presentations into a 500-word blog for the Cold War Camera website. Expanded papers from this conference may also be invited for consideration in a co-edited, peer-reviewed volume of essays.

Conference hotel: We are pleased to announce that the Camino Real Antigua hotel in Antigua, Guatemala will host participants and will provide the venue for conference presentations. Rooms at the Hotel Panamerican have been reserved for the evening of Wed., Feb. 19th, for participants who will be joining the Sites of Memory Tour.

Registration: Accepted contributors are asked to confirm participation by registering for the conference by December 31st, 2013. Registration is 200 CAD and can be done by through this link: Non-participants may register to attend the conference as well.



Photo courtesy of the Sovfoto Archive at the MacLaren Art Centre in Barrie, Ontario.