Photography and Humanitarianism: Depicting Refugees in Greece then (1922-4) and now (2015-6)

Greece once again finds itself in the midst of an international crisis which has the potential to destabilize the European Union. It is frequently argued that Europe is facing a refugee crisis of ‘historic proportions’. Taking this metaphor seriously, Penelope Petsini and George Giannakopoulos aim to recover the visual vocabulary of the crisis by bringing together the current moment of the Syrian refugee crisis and that of the Asia Minor refugee crisis of 1922-4 in the aftermath of the Greco-Turkish war in Anatolia when 1.2 million refugees were resettled in Greece.

Penelope Petsini (Independent scholar – Art & Photography Theory)
Representing Contemporary Refugeedom and Displacement: The Photography of Crisis Globalization

George Giannakopoulos (Queen Mary University of London)
Depicting the Pain of Others: Notes on the Asia Minor refugee crisis

The panel aims to discuss key themes pertaining to the representation of refugeedom; the evolution of the genre of humanitarian photography; the contexts in which photographs circulate; the conflicted stories of the subjects and objects of the photographic act. What aspects of refugee lived experience were repeatedly highlighted to the exclusion of others? What themes still remain relatively unexplored? Moreover, the panel seeks to turn the spotlight to the spectator: How do we witness/see an unfolding humanitarian crisis? What sort of mental images and ethical imperatives derive from these representations, and to what extend those influence our attitudes towards refugees?