Family, Photography, and Autobiography Project

deadline for submissions: 
January 15, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
American Studies Program, University of Bucharest

This is a Call for Contributions for an EXHIBITION and a BOOK. The EXHIBITION is so far virtual (hosted on All projects will initially be published on our website and will take BOOK form when we have secured a sufficient number of high-quality images.

The title of this project is FAMILY LINE-UPS. Trans-generational Encounters in Family Photography. It is part of a wider research project currently examining the role of family photography in the process of the inter-generational transmission of memory, with a focus on the manner in which exile acted on the structure of the family and the coherence of its genealogy.

Your contributions to this project should address one or several of the questions below:

  • How do we relate to a family history that we have inherited through family photographs and storytelling, but which we were for the most part unable to witness?
  •  How does family photography work to relate us to an unlived family history, particularly in the case of various generations of immigrant families who live through multiple layers of geographic dislocation and relocation to another cultural space (see the situation of transatlantic movement from (Eastern) Europe to the United States)?
  •  What role does ”genealogy” (usually read as ”blood ties” but also as ”resemblance”) play in the way we project ourselves visually and verbally?
  •  In what way does photography, especially family photography, enable a dialogue with the dead or absent?
  •  How do we negotiate the scarce narrative force of photography against the social imperative that we possess a coherent story about our past, our ancestors etc.?
  •  How do we reconcile the fact that the conventions of family photography predicate that the family is a coherent, happy unit, but sometimes family narratives contradict this narrative?

Your projects should be sent to and All submissions will automatically be considered for inclusion in the book project as well. Not all proposals included in the online exhibition will also be included in the book project (because of technical considerations such as image quality, printing costs etc.).

Your submission should consist of the following (please see to get a better idea of what we are looking for):

1.  three scanned photographs  from your own family album (please make sure you set your scanner to 600dpi), as follows:

    • one photograph of yourself
    • one of a family member who is absent or otherwise visually unavailable to yourself, but to whom you are connected through ”family resemblance”
    • one of another family member or of a family member who is (also) absent or otherwise visually unavailable to yourself.

2. A scanned HANDWRITTEN (but legible) NOTE in English (no more than 400 words) on how you relate yourself to the absent family member, and what role the other person in the line-up plays in this dialogue you are having with the absent person.

Nota Bene:
The juxtaposition of the photographs and the text you are submitting should address the QUESTIONS WE ASK about memory, family history, and photography. In other words, we will have to reject random or unrelated juxtapositions of family photographs.