Abstract: In this talk, Carolina Sá Carvalho (University of Toronto) draws on research from her book, “Traces of the Unseen: Photography, Violence, and Modernization in Early Twentieth-Century Latin America” (2023), to address the circulation of photographs as evidence of the destructive processes of modernization in the peripheries of extractive capitalism. The talk explores historically specific strategies used by journalists, humanitarians, anthropologists, and artists to frame, caption, crop, overwrite, and circulate photographic traces of destruction to teach increasingly connected urban publics how to interpret them within a large context of modernization. Combining formal analysis of individual photographs with their inclusion in larger multimedia assemblages, Carolina Sá Carvalho examines the formation of different pedagogies of the gaze that put photographs into the service of geopolitically specific projects of modernity. What emerges is a consideration of photography as a technology through which modern aspirations, moral inclinations, imagined futures, and lost pasts were represented, critiqued, and mourned.
About Dr. Carvalho: Carolina Sá Carvalho’s research focus is on Latin American literature and visual culture with emphasis on 19th- and 20th-century Brazil, imperialism, photography, media theory, and environmental humanities. Her essays and articles examine a range of topics, including realist aesthetics, humanitarianism, infrastructure, and the relationships between print and visual cultures. In broad terms, her book-length projects have focused on aesthetic and political responses to the violent transformations unleashed by the expansion of extractive capitalism in the region. She is the author of Traces of the Unseen Photography, Violence, and Modernization in Early Twentieth-Century Latin America(Northwestern University Press, 2023).