CfP: Double Exposures: Perpetrators and the Uses of Photography

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Conference: Double Exposures: Perpetrators and the Uses of Photography

Kazerne Dossin Memorial and Museum, Mechelen, Belgium, 11–13 January, 2018

In addition to eyewitness accounts and written texts or documents, photography serves as a key medium through which acts of perpetration become known. Photographic images of perpetrators and their acts are produced for different purposes (documentation, evidence, self-promotion, propaganda, etc.) and come to us from different sources (journalists, victims, the perpetrators themselves, documents, archives, government agencies, etc.). But they all contribute to shaping the way that we see and think about perpetrators and perpetration: the historical and cultural imaginary is saturated with images, some of which acquire iconic status. While photographs undeniably play a crucial role in raising awareness about atrocities and other forms of mass violence, their omnipresence can on the one hand feed fascination and voyeurism, and on the other hand lead to decontextualization, desensitization, and trivialization. This means that perpetrator studies must think very carefully and critically about how photography is used, not only in the media but also in academic scholarship, at sites of memory, and in educational practice.

This conference aims to consider the past, present, and future uses of photography of and by perpetrators of mass violence, genocide, and other forms of political violence. We invite contributions from scholars working in the fields of history, sociology, anthropology, political science, literary and cultural studies, media studies, philosophy, law, criminology, religious studies, etc. as well as curators, educators, journalists, and other practitioners whose work intersects with the question of perpetration and the uses of photography. We will explore the questions and problems that arise in the context of photography of/by perpetrators in the media, public discourse, in cultural representations, at sites of memory, as well as in education and academic scholarship.

We invite abstracts for 20-minute presentations on the ethical, cultural, philosophical, political, legal, pedagogical, and aesthetic dimensions with respect to photography of and by perpetrators of mass violence in any historical or geographic context. We also welcome contributions that take a meta-discursive approach, i.e. examine the uses of photography of and by perpetrators within or across disciplines. In general, contributors should seek to combine case studies or specific examples with broader theoretical and methodological questions.

The conference is open to scholars, including PhD students and early career academics, but educators, and curators of museums or sites of memory are also explicitly invited. The conference language will be English.

Please send an abstract (max. 300 words), and a short bio (max. 100 words) to by 30 September 2017.


  • Christophe Busch (Kazerne Dossin Memorial and Museum, Mechelen)
  • Stefan Hördler (Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp Memorial)
  • Hans-Christian Jasch (Haus der Wannseekonferenz)
  • Susanne C. Knittel (Utrecht University)
  • Uğur Ümit Üngör (NIOD and Utrecht University)