The editors of Philosophy of Photography invite contributions to a
special issue: Violence!
Photography’s ubiquity means that it touches all realms of life.
Indeed, it has arguably taken on a new and fundamental characteristic as
the way that things emerge in heavily technologized societies. Violence
is undoubtedly a determining category of this mode of society. Is
violence, then, photographic? If so, is this a contingent fact or a
The generality of these claims and questions means that answering them
cannot be limited to one or other form or idea of the visual
representation of violence. Nor can this endeavour be exhausted by
reinterpreting existing photographic practices and their engagement with
violence. Whilst critical approaches to representation and appeals to
exemplary historical practices continue to be important, the question
remains: do the debates and critical applications that have grown around
them prove limited in the face of this new twist in the relationship
between violence and the photographic?
What of the often made claim that photography is per se necessarily
violent, insofar as it is interruptive and generally entails the
assertion of one viewpoint over another? With the growing ubiquity and
effectiveness of autonomous imaging apparatuses and operations, plus the
networked condition of the contemporary image, the sheer scale, scope
and reach of today’s photographies place all of the terms in such
diagnoses into question. Do we not, at the very least, need to reassess
our concrete, imaginative, historical and philosophical antecedents?
But what, in this context, is one to make of the historical force of the
photographic image as a prime disruptor of inherited cultures and as a
counter to imposed political order? What of the disorderly image, the
iconoclastic or self-consciously violent image, not to mention
historical moments of violence done to images in the name of political
resistance and social critique. Can recalling such interruptive
precedents help? Might it suggest that our projection of a newly
refigured relationship between photography and violence harbours
possibilities and promises, and not just threats? Might it open onto the
imagination of newly disruptive image-entities that enable
transvaluation of existing norms and offer insight into the generalised
conditions of violence that face us all to a greater or lesser extent?
What would it be to take the ubiquity, scale and reach of contemporary
photography seriously in, through and as violence? What does it mean to
understand the photographic as co-formative of a world shaped by
violence? Can rethinking photography in these terms help us to
understand a violent world that we suppose ourselves to share but cannot
really grasp as such? If so, how might we have to refigure existing
approaches to understanding both photography and violence? And how,
crucially, might one address these questions without denaturing actual
violence or further co-opting its experience?
Contributions might be in the form of articles, reviews, critical
commentaries on particular events or images, proposals for roundtable
discussions, artworks or other kinds of intervention. We actively
encourage submissions from a wide range of academic contexts and
critical methodologies. We warmly welcome photographic and other
artistic contributions. No payment from authors is required. The
special issue will appear in Autumn 2022. The deadline for submissions
is Sunday July 30th.
If you have any questions about this call for contributions, would
like to discuss a possible submission or to make a proposal, please
contact the editors as early as possible at:
More information on the journal, the journal style guide and the journal
submissions portal can be found at: