Archival Reconstructions: On Looking Disobediently in the Colonial Archive | Gabrielle Moser

Archival Reconstructions: On Looking Disobediently in the Colonial Archive | Gabrielle Moser

“In Projecting Citizenship, Gabrielle Moser gives a comprehensive account of an unusual project produced by the British government’s Colonial Office Visual Instruction Committee at the beginning of the twentieth century—a series of landern slide lectures that combined geography education and photography to teach schoolchildren around the world what it meant to look and to feel like an imperial citizen.

Through detailed archival research and close readings, Moser elucidates the impact of this vast collection of photographs documenting the land and peoples of the British Empire, circulated between 1902 and 1945 in classrooms from Canada to Hong Kong, from the West Indies to Australia. Moser argues that these photographs played a central role in the invention and representation of imperial citizenship. She shows how citizenship became a photographable and teachable subject by tracing the intended readings of the images that the committee hoped to impart to viewers and analyzing how spectators may have used their encounters with these photographs for protest and resistance. Moser shows how the Visual Instruction Committee pictured citizenship within an everyday context and decenters the preoccupation with trauma, violence, atrocity, and conflict that characterizes much of the theoretical literature on visual citizenship and demonstrates that the relationship between photography and citizenship emerged not in the dismantling of modern colonialism but in its consolidation.

Interweaving political and economic history, history of pedagogy, and theories of citizenship with a consideration of the aesthetic and affective dimensions of viewing the lectures, Projecting Citizenship offers important insights into the social inequalities and visual language of colonial rule.”

This talk will feature respondents Dr. Alice Ming Wai Jim (Concordia University Research Chair in Ethnocultural Art Histories) and Dr. Megha Sharma Sehdev (Postdoctoral Researcher, McGill Dept. of Anthropology).

Gabrielle Moser is a writer, educator and independent curator. She is the author of Projecting Citizenship: Photography and Belonging in the British Empire (Penn State UP, 2019) and her writing appears in venues including Artforum, Canadian Art, Journal of Visual Culture, Photography & Culture, and Prefix Photo. Moser has held fellowships at the Paul Mellon Centre for the Study of British Art, the Ryerson Image Centre, the University of British Columbia and was a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Brown University in 2017. She holds a PhD from the art history and visual culture program at York University in Toronto, Canada and is an Assistant Professor in art history at OCAD University.

Tuesday March 19 | 5 – 7 PM
Milieux Institute EV 11.705
Concordia University
1515 St. Catherine St. W 

Recovering Mechanology: The Canadian Media Theory that Never Was | Ghislain Thibault

Recovering Mechanology: The Canadian Media Theory that Never Was | Ghislain Thibault

The contribution of Canadian scholars Carpenter, Innis and McLuhan to media studies has been widely acknowledged worldwide, almost to the point of canonization. In the Toronto School’s shadow, however, other minor intellectual paradigms in the country also sought to address the complex relationship between culture and technology in the postwar era. Among those was “mechanology,” or the “science of machines,” first outlined by the French engineer and architect Jacques Lafitte in his book, Reflections on the Science of Machines (1932), and later recovered by two Canadians in the 1960s, essayist and filmmaker Jean Le Moyne and computer scientist John Hart.  Centering on their collaboration, the revival of mechanology in Canada sought to bring about a renewal in humanist thought by introducing technology as paramount and essential to human culture. Through their interaction and engagement with the work of artists, such as Glenn Gould and Greg Curnoe, and philosophers, such as Gilbert Simondon and Georges Canguilhem, Le Moyne and Hart outlined a project that aspired to bridge the humanities, applied sciences, and the arts. Tracing the development of this now forgotten science of machines provides a way to reexamine the intellectual and political context out of which Canadian media theory gained significance nationally and internationally. Moreover, mechanology’s failure to become as visible as cybernetics or media theory offers a meaningful site for thinking the pivotal cultural and technological changes that marked the shift from energy to information machines in the second half of the twentieth century.

Thurs Feb 7 | 5 – 7 PM
Milieux Institute EV 11.705
Concordia University
1515 St. Catherine St. W 

The Other 1960s | Charles Acland, Rick Prelinger & Haidee Wasson


Open University home experiment kit box, ca. 1980 (Credit © CCA)

The Other 1960s | Charles Acland, Rick Prelinger & Haidee Wasson

The 1960s is generally understood to be a period of tumultuous social and cultural change, and there are numerous histories and documents that recount the upheaval. As with any accepted historical narrative, alternative versions await to be told. This is especially the case when considering art and media of the 1960s, with Pop Art, media installations, and popular television occupying central and conventional places. Inspired by the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) exhibition The University is Now on Air: Broadcasting Modern Architecture, this panel will explore media ephemera and the newly applied ideas about mass education for a new information society that arose in the 1960s. These everyday and functionalist uses of media shaped the modern world and continue to influence the digital era.

Charles Acland is a professor and acting chair in the Department of Communication Studies at Concordia University. Rick Prelinger is an archivist, writer, filmmaker and outsider librarian. In 1982, he founded Prelinger Archives, a collection of industrial, advertising, educational and amateur films that was acquired by the Library of Congress in 2002. Haidee Wasson is a professor of film studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, Concordia University.

Moderated by Lev Bratishenko, CCA Curator, Public, and presented in collaboration with the MHRC and the Centre Canadien d’Architecture / Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA)

May 3 | 6:30 PM
Paul Desmarais Theatre
1920 Baile St Montréal Québec