Keynote lecture at Koc University, Ankara (Turkey), 31 October 2019.

On 31 October 2019, I will deliver a keynote lecture titled “Photography Studies: Transitioning and Enduring Concerns in the Expanding Field” as part of the two-day symposium Interpreting Photography, organised by Vehbi Koc Ankara Studies Research Center (VEKAM) in partnership with Ankara Photography Association (AFSAD), at Koc University, Ankara (Turkey), 31 October–1 November 2019. Historiographical at its core, the talk will investigate the range of interpretive research methodologies used by photography scholars in the early twenty-first century. In doing so, it will provide a survey of the development of photographic scholarship since the emergence of photography’s social history in the 1980s to the rise of the field of photography studies at the turn of the twentieth century. Demonstrating how shifting social, geo-political, and cultural concerns have produced scholarly theoretical paradigms that instigated diverse approaches to the analysis of photography, the beginning of the talk will examine the influence that political, anthropological, postcolonial, and cultural theories have exerted on the absorption of photography into multiple academic disciplines in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. This discussion will explain how assumptions about the universal meaning of photographic imagery and the universality of photographic theory alike have gradually become obsolete. But, it will also account for the alternative positions that started to flourish in photographic scholarship instead. The talk will then attend to the role film-based and digital photographic technologies have played in embedding photography in everyday life. It will clarify how the growing popularisation of photography throughout the twentieth century has led photography scholars to further liberate its study from the otherwise exclusive association of the medium with the visual domain. Here, the implications of the social, cultural, material, and phenomenological research approaches currently dominating research in the field will be analysed, and the tendency of current field scholars to consider photographic interpretations as depended on ethnographical forms of evidence will be explained. Since the talk mainly intends to suggest some discursive frameworks for the two-day symposium, in lieu of any closing conclusions it will end with some informed reflections on what the future may hold for research in photography studies.

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