Contact Zones

Photography, Migration, and Cultural Encounters in the United States

Edited by Justin Carville and Sigrid Lien

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The role of photography in U.S. migrant histories
Since the mid-nineteenth century photography has played a central role in cultural encounters within and between migrant communities in the United States. Migrant histories have been mediated through the photographic image, and the cultural practices of photography have themselves been transformed as migrant communities mobilise the photographic image to navigate experiences of cultural dislocation and the forging of new identities. Exploring photographic images and the cultural practices of photography as ‘contact zones’ through which cultural exchange and transformation takes place, this volume addresses the role of photography in migrant histories in the United States from the mid-nineteenth century to today. Taking as its focal point photography’s role in shaping migrant experiences of cultural transformation, and how migrant experiences have re-configured culturally differentiated practices of photography, case studies on migration from Europe, Central America, and North America position photography as entwined with cultural histories of migration and cultural transformation in the United States.

Contributors: Sarah Bassnett (Western University), David Bate (University of Westminster), Justin Carville (Institute of Art, Design & Technology, Dun Laoghaire), Erina Duganne (Texas State University), Orla Fitzpatrick (National Museum of Ireland), Bridget Gilman (Independent Scholar), Aleksandra Idzior (University of Fraser Valley), Alexandra Irimia (University of Western Ontario), Sandra Križić Roban (Institute of Art History, Zagreb), Sigrid Lien (University of Bergen), Helene Roth (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich), Leslie Ureña (Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery)

Ebook available in Open Access.
This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).



Contact Zones: Photography, Migration, and the United States                            
Justin Carville and Sigrid Lien


The Figure of Migration                                                                                         
David Bate


From Cavan to Kansas: A Photographic Album of Family Migration from Ireland to North America        
Orla Fitzpatrick

A Letter from Pat in America: Photo-remittances and the Irish American Diaspora                                                                                     
Justin Carville


“First Pictures”: New York through the Lens of Emigrated European Photographers in the 1930s and 1940s                                                                                                          
Helene Roth

Migrating Images of War and Dislocation: From War Zone to Contact Zone and from Photography to Photomontage                                               
Aleksandra Idzior

Far from Home: Winston Vargas in Washington Heights                             
Leslie Ureña


A Box, a Suitcase, a Museum Photographic Records of Croatian Immigrants to the United States                                                                    
Sandra Križić Roban

What Moves You? Georges Didi-Huberman’s Arts of Passage and Pittsburgh Stories of Migration      
Alexandra Irimia


Searching for Oleana: Contemporary Photographic Negotiations of Migration and Settler-Colonial Tropes                                                             
Sigrid Lien

The Photographer as Advocate: Representing Migrant Communities in San Francisco and Tijuana       
Bridget Gilman

Witnessing the Trauma of Undocumented Migrants in Mexico         
Sarah Bassnett

There Was no Record of Her Smile: Muriel Hasbun’s X post facto    
Erina Duganne

Gallery with Color Plates                                                                                        

Format: Edited volume - free ebook - PDF

360 pages

ISBN: 9789461663573

Publication: June 07, 2021

Languages: English


Justin Carville teaches historical and theoretical studies in photography at the Institute of Art, Design & Technology, Dun Laoghaire.
Sigrid Lien teaches modern and contemporary art history, including theory and history of photography at the Department of Literary, Linguistic and Aesthetic Studies at the University of Bergen.

This comprehensive, interdisciplinary volume will appeal to art historians, scholars of photography and those interested in contemporary European, Latin American and US migration. Individual chapters will be useful for historians of the Croatian, Dominican, German, Irish, Norwegian and Central American diasporas. Contact Zones would make a rich addition to syllabi for undergraduate and graduate courses on US cultural history, migration and transnationalism, and visual media in the Americas. - Erica Toffoli, History of Photography,