The photographic medium has played an important role in the movement of people, objects, identities, and ideas across time and space, especially in the human crossing of geographical and cultural borders. Scholars have shown how cameras documented, enabled, or controlled such forced or voluntary movements, while photographers have attempted to put a face on immigration around the world, making visible its associations with transition, displacement, hardship, and opportunity. In this blog series, Tanya Sheehan reflects on the relationship between photography and migration in the twenty-first century by considering photographs in the global migration crisis as well as within her own local, community interventions. Framing her discussion are keywords in photography and migration studies: diaspora, refugee, (im)mobility, and border.
Tanya Sheehan is the William R. Kenan Jr. Associate Professor of Art and Chair of the Department of Art at Colby College. She is the author of Doctored: The Medicine of Photography in Nineteenth-Century America (2011) and the forthcoming Blacks and Whites: Race and Photographic Humor. Her edited books include Photography, History, Difference (2014), Photography and Its Origins (2015), and the Grove Art Guide to Photography (2017). She currently serves as editor of the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art Journal and organizes the Photography and Migration Project based in Waterville, Maine, USA.