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“American Worker Photography and the Subject/Object of History”

April 14, 2023 at 11:00am12:30pm EDT

Bowne Hall, 309 and Virtual (See event details)

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Art and Music Histories is pleased to welcome Margaret Innes, Assistant Professor of Art History, Syracuse University, as part of AMH’s colloquium series.

The worker photography movement was a communist initiative of the mid-1920s that aimed to organize workers as photographers for the radical press. Because the movement foregrounded the experience of workers themselves, it has often been characterized in terms of Lukácsian standpoint epistemology, a framework in which the alienated and objectified worker is transformed into the class-conscious subject of history through politicized self-representation. Yet as party records attest, this was not the organizational model the Comintern had in mind.  This lecture examines the formation of American worker photography around 1926 to assess its negotiation of agency between workers and party vanguard. Looking specifically at the roles that worker photography played in the Bolshevization of the American communist press and existing camera club culture, it argues that the movement should be understood above all as a targeted disruption of photography’s increasingly corporatized social relations.

This event was first published on March 16, 2023 and last updated on March 27, 2023.

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