CfP – Third ISA Forum of Sociology – Vienna 2016


The 2016 ISA Forum in Vienna is on the horizon. Themed as ‘The Futures We Want: Global Sociology And The Struggle For A Better World‘, the Forum is a great opportunity for sociologists and those in related fields to engage with a diverse community of researchers.

The Third ISA Forum will be convened in Vienna, Austria, 10-14 July 2016 on the theme “The Futures We Want: Global Sociology and the Struggles for a Better World.” This theme encourages a forward-orientation in empirical, theoretical, and normative research to tackle the problems and opportunities that often cut across borders.

The poster for the meeting can be found here – ISA 2016 Forum Poster – and I’d like to draw your attention, specifically, to the work of the Visual Sociology team.

The Visual Sociology Working Group have 9 individual sessions to attend or contribute to and 4 joint sessions with other research groups across the Forum. All sessions are in English and are found here

Lastly, I’d like to draw your attention to my own session. The session, which is entitled Imaging Futures Through the Visual – See below.

The session is a joint session with RC07 ‘Future Sociology’ and the host committee, Visual Sociology. I welcome any enquires and submissions and look forward to seeing you in Vienna.
Session Organizer(s)
Gary BRATCHFORD, Manchester Institute for Research and Innovation in Art and Design, United Kingdom,

Session in English

This session invites papers on research and case studies that consider how futures are being presented, mediated, performed, designed, narrated or imagined through a range of visual practices. Emphasizing the importance of visibility and communication, the session will consider:

  • How sociology and visual studies combined can be used to conceptualize current relations between vision and visuality.
  • The representation of varying social spheres, communities, environments, social movements, state and non-state actors on and offline.

As such, this session welcomes research that investigates what Schulz (2015) refers to as “future moves” within the discipline, as well as future visions in addition to research dealing with the assembly of visual material that point to an understanding or re-reading of our potential futures. Examples may include:

  • The analysis of ecological or activist photographs that delineate a future disaster as a possible outcome of the present (Harimen, 2014).
  • The accumulation and analysis of contemporary activist material found on multiple platforms, that when brought together, create a “visual coherence” evoking a trail, and thus an idea of an injustice, which is yet to be recognized (Azoulay, 2011).

Papers are also welcomed on a range of topics that address motives and practices for future change or future action, supported by visual content. These can include (but are not limited to):

  • The networked circulation of individual and group self-portraits with banners and signs that promote call for changes in policy, political visibility and/or social equality.
  • What methodological tools are best applied when examining futures through a socio-visual lens.




Visual Sociology News Letter – Dec 2014

Dear readers,

For those interested in Visual Sociology, the December newsletter has been published (the first edition since I became sub-editor to Andrea Doucet).

A packed edition with lots of info, including a welcome from the new Visual Sociology President, photo essays and lots of interesting calls for submissions, papers and conferences.

Happy New Year,


Visual Sociology Newletter – Dec 2014

Conflict in Visual Culture Part 2 – Public Visibility and the Battle for Representation

As part of the Asia Manchester Triennial (ATM) I’ll be taking part in a Public Lecture/Talk at the Castlefield Gallery, Manchester. The link to the event is here, where you can also book yourself a place.

Following on from Pt 1, held at the Centre for Contemporary Chinese Art, Manchester which featured Fionna Barber, Simon Faulkner and Becky Kennedy, the programme looks to continue the theme of conflict and compassion which is the underpinning narrative for this years ATM.

I’ll be talking alongside Prof. Jim Alluich and Leanne Green, both of whom I work with in MIRIAD at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU).

My section of the day will focus on the production of political visibilities related to Israel/Palestine and the Occupation, focusing on photographic practices that specifically engage with Gaza followed by some artistic practices related to the West Bank.

Its also nice to see that the Image used to promote the event is mine, taken from a research tip to the West Bank in 2013. 
Gary Bratchford – West Bank Wall – 2013

AHRC – Looking at Images – Publication


A recently collated E-Book, on behalf of The British Library, Winchester School of Art and the AHRC is due to be launched on the 4th of November. Entitled, Looking At Images: A Researchers Guide, the text comprises of a number of submissions that deal with the image in and as research.
An open-access publication edited by Sunil Manghani and includes submissions by James Elkins the E-book traverses the nature of ‘image based research and image led research’ through a number of interesting and varied articles.

My article, originally titled, Looking at Images: Researchers Guide (not sure why I couldn’t think of something more specific – perhaps I forgot to title it myself…) is available in PDF here and will also be available in the downloads tab of my site soon.

ICPT Update – International Conference of Photography and Theory 2014





The conference program is now available and is attached below.

I’m speaking on the Saturday, the second of three days, during the first panel, entitled The “Seen” and the “Unseen”: Online archives and contested visibilities. 

I’m looking forward to my visit and the opportunity to listen to John Tagg’s opening key note the day prior.

The full day of events runs as follows,


10:00-10:30 COFFEE BREAK
10:30-12:30 The “Seen” and the “Unseen”: Online archives and contested visibilities Vernacular photography: atrocities and the construction of visual memory
Archival Violence: Showing and hiding atrocity in the new media ecology,Andrew Hoskins, University of Glasgow, and Ben O’Loughlin, Royal Holloway University of London, UK Photography on the margins of war: displaying World War II photographs of Thessaloniki, Iro Katsaridou and Ioannis Motsianos, Museum of Byzantine Culture, Thessaloniki, Greece
Ecology of an Online Archive: Visual Activism and Political Visibilities in Israel/Palestine, Gary Bratchford, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK Personal photographic archives in the aftermath of genocide, Armenoui Kasparian Saraidari, University of the Arts London, UK
Photographs of a March: Looking for Movement in Stillness, Anne-Marie ProulxArtist and Curator, Montreal, Canada SCALING THE MILITANT IMAGE: Photography and geopolitics, Peter F. Hermans, Independent Researcher, Germany
Negotiating History: Sami grass-root blobbers’ use of Historical Photographs, Hilde Nielssen, University of Bergen, Norway Eyes on the Ground and Eyes in the Sky: Satellite and Participatory Surveillance Photography in Sudan, Jan Babnik , University of Primorska, Slovenia
12:30-14:00 LUNCH
14:00-15:30 The “Seen” and the “Unseen”: photography and semiology Politics of representation I: Body and Race
Not Illicit, Not Optical: Examining the power of a prevented photographs,Elizabeth Hoak-Doering, University of Nicosia, Cyprus  PhotograPhysical: If the Body Is a Battleground, then Who Is Not a War Photographer?, Jörg Scheller, Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland 
Non-indexical photographs in online news, Ilija Tomanic Trivundza, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia 25 Years Later: Historicizing and Reclaiming Kobena Mercer’s Queerly Raced Photographic Politics, Levi Prombaum , Courtauld Institute of Art, London, UK
Naturalizing Ideology – Non-Iconic Images, Alessa K. Paluch, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany Political matter: photography and race,Tanya Sheehan, Colby College, USA
15:30-16:00 COFFEE BREAK
16:00-17:00 Photography and Narrative: Text and Image Politics of representation II: Gender and Activism
Narrative Text and Photographs: A Case for Ethnographic Research Poetry, Terry Ownby, Idaho State University, US The Visual Aesthetics of ‘Everyday’ Politics: Photography, Violence, Gender, and Right-Wing Movements in India and Israel-Palestine, Akanksha Mehta, Centre for Gender Studies, SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), University of London, UK
‘Pictures and Ideas’: TEN.8 Photography Magazine and the politics of representation in practice,Laura Guy, Art, Goldsmiths College, University of London , UK The Politics of Screen Gesture in Japanese ”Purikura” Photography,Mette Sandbye, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
17:15-19:15 Photography as discursive document: Mediation Contested landscapes and photography: trauma, violence, politics
Evidence and relation. Photography and the representation of contemporary events, Roberta Agnese, Université Paris Est-Créteil, FranceMyth, Montage and Magic Realism: Rethinking the photograph as a discursive document, Liam Devlin, University of Huddersfield, UK The Act of Pointing: “Landscape Series # 1” by Nguyen Trinh Thi, Anna Rådström, Umeå University, Sweden
Violence and Light | Richard Mosse’s Infra (2010) series, Carmen J. Victor,Ryerson and York University, Canada
The Uses of Protest: Reflecting on Photographic Records as “Image Events”, Daniel Marques Sampaio, University of Hertfordshire, UK The burden of politics, the temptation of beauty, Elena Parpa , School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London, UK
To Overcome Modernity: Nakahira Takuma and the Landscape Theory,Jelena Stojkovic, London College of Communication, University of the Arts London, UK
19:30 DINNER

But a link to the full schedule is here, and they’ll be a talk by my supervisor, Simon Faulkner on the Friday. Simon will also be speaking about Israel/Palestine.

International Visual Sociology News Letter

Hi folks, some additional good news to follow the ICPT post is that I’ve been voted onto the Board of the International Sociological Association (ISA) Visual Sociology Working Group. A post that lasts for four years will see me take up a number of proactive roles related to the group including conference organising, the promotion of their activities as well as research outputs. More specifically I am acting sub-editor of their their thrice yearly output, the Visual Sociology Newsletter.

Enquiries related to the newsletter as well as suggested contributions can be made through the following email –

There is also the Visual Sociology Facebook page


Gary Bratchford

ICPT 2014


The new academic year is underway and with that brings new activities and public speaking opportunities. In the following months I’ll be speaking at a number of events, however this quick post is to draw attention to this forthcoming event in Cyprus.

The 3rd International Conference of Photography and Theory is this coming December, and i’m pleased to say my extended abstract was accepted, and can be found under my conference tab here.
A link to the conference is here —> ICPT2014

Gary Bratchford

The Rachel Tanur Memorial Prize for Visual Sociology

I wrote a short piece for the Social Science Research Council competition. The prize, which is biannual, invites scholars to address one of Rachel’s images from the online gallery. The second component requires the entrant to submit a photo and a short essay for critique, both aspects of writing are limited to 500 words. The final submissions are submitted to the board of the ISA’s Visual Sociology Working Group.

Below is my response to one of Rachel’s images, and my submission. The site, with additional details and images can here found here. 

Liquid Borders and Contested Spaces: An Israeli Street in a Palestinian City.

In 2013 I made a research trip to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The purpose of my visit was to conduct interviews and collect visual data. I visited the West Bank and specifically the Palestinian city of Hebron. One photo I took was at the entrance to Al-Shushda Street, an Israeli outpost in the heart of the Arab city.
The photo is clearly denotative of a middle-eastern space. The architecture and stonework, pastoral colours and blue skies are consistent with much of what we’ve come to know from that geographical region. What is less telling is the nature of the space. The school children on the left are entering a military zone. Equally, they are crossing a border that only they, as Israelis, can. The scopic regime that is afforded to Israel and the Occupied Territories is often limited to a number of clichéd journalistic and documentary tropes. Metonymically, the region and its inhabitants are all to often replaced by the icons of geo-political dispute; objects of separation such as walls and barriers, their scale and materiality reduces the occupation down to a simple dispute over borders.
Like my analysis of Rachel’s photo, ‘Two Cuban Kids Look Through a Window’, this image invites a curious spectatorship. The image was taken because I wanted to record what I saw. As Bourdieu notes, I deemed it ‘photographable’, predicating my decision on moral and aesthetic values. However, the image prompts an investigation of the social and formal arrangements within the field of in/visibility. Indexical to the political tension, the photo echoes the trace of an event (Bourdieu, 1990-6-8).
Against the geography of stable, static places and fixed sovereign borders exist deeply penetrative frontiers and elastic territories. These temporary lines are often marked by makeshift boundaries (Weizman, 2004). Such boundaries are not limited to the edge of political space; instead they blur the distinction between what is ‘inside’ and ‘outside’, or ‘us’ and ‘them’. As a British citizen I was afforded the opportunity to explore this makeshift boundary; I was both inside and outside at the same time while loitering sceptically on the boundary (Eagleton, 2004: 40). Revisiting the photo I could sense the atmosphere, more specifically a friction that isn’t overtly evident in the first instance. A definition of friction is ‘the resistance that one surface or object encounters when moving over another’ (OED, 2012). Looking back upon the image the friction of a geopolitical dispute is clearly evident. Stones on the ground, pitted dints on the cabin and pink paint splashed against the window all testify to the friction of one sovereign object moving over the surface of another.
Two Israeli flags bookend the cabin and lay claim to the contested space, the coil of barbed wire and improvised fence discreetly attest to its volatile nature.

465 words:
Bourdieu, P. 1990. Photography: A Middle-Brow Art. Cambridge: Polly Press.
Eagleton, T. 2003. After Theory. London. Basic Books.
Oxford English Dictionary. 2012. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Weizman, E. 2004. A Hollow Land: Israel’s Architecture of Occupation. London. Verso


Commentary on Rachel Tanur’s Works: Cuban Kids at Window


Cuban Kids at Window

Examining Rachel’s work and the responses to her images one can assert that a great deal of analytical attention is focused on zones of indistinction (Deleuze, 1987; Agamben, 1998). Adopting the more positive Deleuzion appropriation, these zones function as ‘loci’s of becoming’ and their becoming is multiple. Market places, stalls and transport terminals inform the spectator of the vitality of informal economies locally; those engaged in local market trading and sidewalk vending become visible through commerce and place. But these visibilities are also subject to Rachel’s (and others) inquisitive and touristic gaze that re-packages it for various modes of analysis and consumption. The point here is that each ‘becoming’ overlaps but also remains distinct from one another (Deleuze & Guattari, 1991:20-24). However, some images provide us with less overtly striking visual content, nevertheless, these images often carry accidental gestures or arresting detail that prick and bruise. Roland Barthes (1981) called this the punctum; yet, this prick or bruise can also be an emotive quality. In the following essays, I use the term atmospheres to signal how an image can be made meaningful through emotive readings. In ‘Cuban Kids at a Window’ two small children are seen to be looking through a window at what one suspects is an object of curiosity. As such, the photo embodies multiple layers of curious looking; first by children, then by Rachel who sees the image and takes the photo, and finally by us, the recipient of the image. The two children, immobilised by spectatorship are unaware of Rachel’s gaze. Their relationship to one another is evidently close and comfortable. In shorts and t-shirts both children peer through an open window, equipped with a fan and verdant potted plants that attest to the warm climate. The little girl leans in to her counterpart mimicking an informal, but warm embrace. This image reflects Rachel’s vernacular mode of address. This vernacular form of photography, be it touristic or documentary, forms part of the material with which we make sense of our world, helping us gain control over our surroundings and negotiate with the particularity of our circumstances (Holland, 1992:10). Examining the image further we can see that Rachel is across the road from the children, as such the framing of the image attests to its spontaneity; the top of the window frame through which the subjects of the photo gaze is out of shot, equally the children’s’ off centre positioning affirm that the image is of an unprofessional nature. While the photo is opportune, the narrative is slow. Rachel does not deal with what Henri-Cartier-Bresson famously termed the ‘decisive moment’, instead she trades in atmospheres rather than the proof of an event or an occurrence. Atmospheres cannot be shown; they can only be produced, prompting the investigation of social and formal arrangements in the field of visibility. As visual sociologists we understand that photography is inherently an analytical discipline (Shore, 2007). Every image is therefore a consequence of a chain of decisions, but also the result of an ethical or artistic judgements towards the object being photographed (professional or otherwise). As such this image underpins the logic of sociological enquiry; it reminds us that we are always looking in on something or someone with a curious gaze.

Barthes, R. 1981. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. New York: Hill and Wang. Deleuze, G and Guattari F. 1991. Qu’est-ce que la philosophie? (What is Philosophy?). New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.
Holland, P and Spence, J, eds. 1992. Family Snaps: The Meaning of Domestic Photography. London: Virago.
Shore, S. 2007.The Nature of Photographs. London: Phaidon.Gary Bratchford

Following on nicely, Tent review and Art Licks Magazine

Hi everyone, its been some time since I’ve made a post – I’ve been working away at the thesis, and while this is not a blog through which I disseminate my thoughts and theories, in the coming months I will be submitting aspects of my writing for review, should people come across it. I’ll also be uploading drafts of previous papers I’ve delivered.

With that in mind, a review of my talk for Tent can be found in the Spring Edition of Art Licks

art licks 1art licksart licks 2

In the photo above, I can be seen, sat down, with an image by Israel photographer, Gaston Zvi Ickowicz – the images from the series are available in the link.


Additionally, the public talk is on Vimeo – while you can’t see me, you can listen to the session and Q&A.

A note one the image: For me, and I suspect, for the photographer the building and the image represents a political alienation, one which is embedded in the very appearances of the houses, buildings and occasional portrait photographs of those who ‘occupy’ the spaces which Ickowicz photographs. Through his compositional style the viewer is made aware of ‘non-belonging’ and a resolute defiance to contest it. The relationship between the landscape and the object which is being recorded is obvious. Each object within the image bespeaks no visible, practical relationship to the surroundings.

Such buildings and practices are common – settlements are a manifest practice within the West Bank – how Gaston frames them is done in such a way that it invites a curious spectatorship that makes the spectator ask question, necessary questions….

lastly, a bit more info is available via the Talks Tab

Gary Bratchford

Tent Talk review 2013 and more

As Christmas is fast approaching it is customary to look back and reflect upon ones activities, experiences and achievements. Well the guys at Tent Mcr have done just that.
The review also features a little bit about my talk and a link to the video if anyone caries to watch/listen.
With that in mind, I too have had a productive and stimulating year. I successfully completed my RD2 (the transfer report to formalise my studies from MPhil to PhD). I presented two papers, one at the IVSA and one at Brighton University, plus my invited talk and discussion for Tent Mcr.
I have applied for AHRC funding re a collaborative community project using visual techniques and strategies as a means of popular communication and critique. Lastly, I have just returned from my short research trip to Israel which has really helped to ground my research and writing (images and report to follow in the NY).

The Christmas period involves marking essays, drafting chapters and another project application coupled with a NYE trip to Moscow.

Gary Bratchford