Laura E. Smith

Associate Professor of Art History, Michigan State University

Collaborative Research Grant, MSU College of Arts and Letters 2017-18

This past year I joined a MSU research group that brought together colleagues from Art and Art History, French and Francophone Studies, and Latin American literary and cultural studies with a common interest in photography, visual culture, literature and others arts. The MSU four-member included colleagues from the Department
of Art and Art History (Candace Keller, Laura Smith) and from the Department of Romance and Classical Studies (Safoi Babana-Hampton, Rocío Quispe-Agnoli).  Our Collaborative Research Project “Picturing Others: Indigenous Photography, (Self)Portraits, Preservation and Epistemic Disobedience” was funded by the Michigan State University College of Arts and Letters.  The proposed theme facilitated scholarly discussion about written and visual representations of the other from the perspective of an Indigenous self. The focus will was on the representations of others by social groups that used to control media and forms of expression, but rather on native and local subjects who have used/use technological inventions (such as photography) associated with modernity to explore their own selves and to represent their others, namely those in power.

One of our projected outcomes was to hold a 2-day research/discussion seminar in April 2018. Each of us extended invitations to another colleague to join us.  Our guests were Sherry Farrell-Racette (Univ of Regina), Jorge Coronado, (Northwestern University),  Erika Nimis (Univ of Québec, Montréal), and Mary Vogl (Colorado State Univ). In this two-day seminar, we met to discuss our work and ideas on the subject at the center of our project. The seminar was organized in a workshop fashion, with pre-circulated papers presented over the course of 2 days. This was an amazing opportunity! I very much appreciated the chance to discuss my work with some outstanding scholars, and hear about their studies.