Photography and Its Publics

Matthew Sleeth, Pictured #29 [Tokyo], 2005. Photo courtesy of Matthew Sleeth/Claire Oliver Gallery (New York).

Understanding how photographs help to define the public sphere.


Funded by

  • The Australian Research Council under its Future Fellowship scheme (FT130100012)

Driven by the creative, critical and political power of visual culture,this project focuses on the importance of photographs and photographic practices in shaping the public sphere. The project pays particular attention to the role of images in moments of profound social and political change when the public, its inclusions and exclusions are reimagined. Extending well beyond the use of photographs to bear witnesses to political violence, the project investigates the more subtle and complex ways that photographs help to define, produce and reconfigure the public.

Two books are associated with this project. Melissa Miles’s Photography Truth and Reconciliation examines the use of photography to reconstruct suppressed histories and facilitate reconciliation after periods of state sanctioned violence or abuse in Argentina, South Africa, Cambodia, Australia and Canada.

Photography and Its Publics – edited by Melissa Miles and Edward Welch (University of Aberdeen) – features new essays by Robert Hariman and John Louis Lucaites, Andrés Zervignón, Paul Frosh, Thy Phu and other leading photography historians and theorists, all addressing how photography helps to constitute, define and reinvent the public sphere in different parts of the world.