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Zarzycka, Marta

Zarzycka, Marta


Marta Zarzycka, born in Lodz, Poland. Ph.D. from Utrecht University. Assistant Professor of Gender Studies at Utrecht University.

Fellow (1 September 2014 – 30 June 2015)

Gendered Tropes in War Photography: Mothers, Mourners, Soldiers (a monograph)

Research Question

I investigate how, becoming a prime mediator in the relations among citizens of different parts of the world, photographic tropes in global war reporting produce, reproduce, and transform notions of subjectivity, sovereignty, belonging, and the precariousness of the lives of others.

Project Description

Functioning as mental and emotional templates, photographic tropes constitute a basic search category in online stock image banks, photography archives, and memorial sites, and determine our results as we navigate the image depositories of Facebook, Google, or Flickr. Easily accessible, undemanding in their familiarity, and well-suited to mass-mediated collective memory, they are particularly powerful in the case of the coverage of atrocity: they replace the un-picturable with the recognizable and fill the representational void created by trauma. The tropes I analyse in my research are a mourning woman, a woman soldier, a female civilian protester, a child, and a female suicide bomber. I examine how each trope is congruent with the practices of photojournalism and how it fits the organizational codes and objectives of aid campaigns mounted by Western NGOs. The photographs I look at have been given wide exposure by being published in highly visible places by prominent institutions, have won professional acclaim in documentary photography competitions, and have achieved cultural traction as evidenced by their circulation through social media.

Selected Publications

1) Carnal Aesthetics: Transgressive Imagery and Feminist Politics (edited volume), London: I.B. Tauris, 2013

2) ‘Outside the Frame: Re-examining Photographic Representations of Mourning,’ Photography & Culture, vol. 7 no. 1, 2013, pp. 63-78

3) ‘Feelings as Facts: The World Press Photo Contest and Visual Tropes,’ Photographies, vol. 6 no. 1, 2013, pp. 177-184

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