‘A photograph is an invitation to speculation’
(Susan Sontag, On Photography, 2001)
Regarding War: Image/Text is a new research project directed by members of the Centre for Transcultural Writing and Research within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. The images and texts displayed here communicate the experience of contemporary wars from perspectives in the North of England. Reflected in these new commissions are the ways in which contemporary armed conflicts touch individuals and communities.
The photographer for this project is Richard Hanson who has worked freelance all over the North of England for national papers and across the UK for national charities. He has traveled widely for international NGOs and in his work for tearfund has reported from over 30 countries, from
war zones like Sierra Leone, Liberia, Rwanda, and Sudan.
Fadia Faqir, the Jordanian/British writer, independent scholar and defender of human rights, has responded to Richard's images using a mixture of poetry, prose and prose-poetry. Fadia's first novel, Nisanit, was published by Penguin in 1990 and is currently being translated into Arabic. Her second novel, Pillars of Salt, was published by Quartet Books in 1996, and was translated into German, Dutch and Danish. Her third novel, My Name is Salma, was published by Transworld and was translated into thirteen languages.
To explore the images and texts for Regarding War, click on each of the thumbnail images above. Each image is displayed without context to maximize its impact, but a button above the image will lead you to a page displaying Fadia's accompanying text. Fadia and Richard's experiences of writerly and photographic process are reflected in their blog entries, linked from the menu above.
Regarding War hopes to continue work like this with further funding and commissions. For the larger project to follow, our focus will be upon the potential of imagery and writing to re-present the North of England as imagined and contested regional space mediated by international conflict; our geographical context can hence be defined as global/local. Our approach draws attention to ways in which ‘other’ spaces – exemplified by the absent/present battle zones of contemporary Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine – are continuously constructed as in/visible in particular ways. The challenge, then, is to actively generate forms of testimony, memory, touch, affect, and identification that challenge the parameters of visibility, commensurate constructions of proximity and distance and, by extension, definitions of identity and difference. Our project will stimulate a combination of visual imagery and creative writing in order to provide a productive interface for reframing such questions. The imagery and writing produced through the programme will necessarily involve a consideration of ways in which imagery of war is already highly mediated and commodified, vitiating its potential for affective reaction. It is hoped that it will also evoke and solicit alternative structures of response to war across geographical, experiential, cultural, religious, and gendered axes of difference, distance, and affiliation.