Volume 32, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0924-1884
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9986
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This article introduces the concept of ‘photo-translation’ for studying documentary photography as a collaborative practice of visual translation. The visual-translational approach to photo documentation is applied in a novel way to the emerging field of contemporary migration photography, thus relating recent theoretical connections between translation and migration studies to explorations in visual studies. The study discusses how participatory and collaborative practices are increasingly used in contemporary photo documentation to challenge, if not remove, the relational ‘othering’ effect inherent in the photo-documentary presentation of refugees, migrants and displaced peoples. The potential of translaboration as a mode of translational collaboration is explored through an in-depth analysis of two photo projects: (1) the participatory photo project (Gomez and Vannini 2015), conducted by social and information scientists Ricardo Gomez and Sara Vannini in cooperation with migrants at the US–Mexico border; and (2) the collaborative photo–graphic novel project (Migrant Image Research Group 2017), carried out by the Migrant Image Research Group under the guidance of Armin Linke. Demanding agency in visual translation proves to be essential for these participatory photo projects, since they aim to challenge dominant visual representations of how migration is narrated and represented in the media and academic discourse. For this reason, the investigation draws on new sociological approaches in Translation Studies in order to frame photo-translation as a social practice and as a form of (activist) engagement involving various agents and institutions.


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