Cold War Camera Research Workshop

Mexico City, Feb. 13–14, 2015

A two-day meeting of scholars from multiple disciples and across the Americas to further develop ideas on the visual mediation of the “other cold war,” with an emphasis on the connections and disconnections between photographs of the global south. Our participants convened over the course of two days to workshop papers for an upcoming book volume. As part of this event, we visited the Tlatelolco Museum, which honours the student movement and commemorates the 1968 massacre.

Photo by Daniel Hernández-Salazar

Workshop participants.


Tlatelolco Musuem projects a new vision of the Black Panther Party's peacock salute.

Mug shots of the students arrested at Tlatelolco 68


By the time the athletes arrived for the 1968 Olympic Games, the movement had been all but crushed. It is unlikely that the Black Panther Party's iconic upraised fist, which was an inspiration for the student movement's defiance of authority, was made in awareness of the violence that had just unfolded.

Pausing before an arresting display at the Tlatelolco Museum in Mexico City.


Guatemala City and Antigua, Guatemala Feb. 20-22, 2014

In collaboration with local partners, this conference brought researchers based in Canada, the U.S., Latin America, and Europe, together to explore the transnational dimensions of Cold War visual culture from multi-disciplinary perspectives. This intense, three-day event kicked off with a deeply moving “Sites of Memory” tour, coordinated by internationally renowned photographer and activist Daniel Hernández Salazar. The tour featured visits to: The Bone Laboratory and the DNA Laboratory, both coordinated by the Fundación de Antropología Forense de Guatemala; the Museum of Martyrs; the National Police Historical Archive; and the Catholic Church Human Rights Bureau, the body that coordinated the 1998 report, Guatemala: Nunca Más. These institutions are playing a vital role in the excavation and preservation of Guatemala’s Cold War histories; they are also sites where, as we learned, international visitors can play pivotal roles as witnesses. In fact, the aim of locating the conference in one of the early and overlooked sites of Cold War intervention and opening with a field trip to Guatemala’s “Sites of Memory” was precisely to ground the notion of transnational inquiry: to frame our discussions of the meaning of the global determinants of social, cultural and economic forces by inviting our international collaborators “to stand in the place”, as Toni Morrison puts it.

The program [PDF file] included provocative plenary presentations by Ariella Azoulay and Nicholas Mirzoeff, and consisted of four panels that explored such themes as: photography’s role in hot zones of conflict located in the global south; the politics of aesthetics; transcultural exchange; and archiving memory. Part of the event was held at CiRMA, our local partner, which also co-organized a digital exhibition and graciously hosted a welcome reception for conference participants and local photographers. The conference engaged with community activists and coverage on Guatemalan television and among online journalists.