Andrew W. Mellon Regional Fellow in the Humanities
2013—2014 Forum on Violence
Assistant Professor of Art & Art History, Drexel University
"Evidence for History": Interrogating the Photographic Witness of Rwanda's Genocide
Photographers who work in conflict zones, amidst widespread human-rights abuses and humanitarian crises, will often speak about their work as "witnessing" or offering "testimony" to the suffering endured by their subjects. Thus, Gilles Peress, one of the photographers in Rwanda immediately after the 1994 genocide of Tutsis by the Hutu-led government, described his photographic practice by stating, "I don't care so much about 'good photography'; I am gathering evidence for history." Taking Peress's invitation to evaluate his photographs as "evidence for history," my proposed project for the 2013-14 Penn Humanities Forum is a study of the photographs of the Rwandan genocide and the complications posed by using photographs as evidence of the crime of genocide.