A System Among Others? Power, Balance, Self-reflection on and with the Photographic image. 

An international Symposium on Photography and Ethics at the nexus of the Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts Practice. Hosted by the Department of Sociology, Lund University in collaboration with the Hasselblad Foundation and Landskrona Foto.


Landskrona, Sweden. 30 September & 1 October 2021 


Photographic images, especially in series, essays or other kind of visual narratives, and social sciences research afford us insights into systems at the societal, institutional, group, or individual levels that otherwise would be disregarded as physical and social realities. However, in order to portray and convey the realities of such systems, recognizable individuals sharing their life, insights and emotional conditions are often depicted (photographed or studied) by other individuals than those documented.

Documenting realities of different systems raises questions around the purpose and power of the photographic image. As has been evident since the late 19th century, documentary photography can reveal unpleasant truths by capturing a variety of events that many would prefer to ignore and in that sense potentially become a tool for political change. But the genre and its practitioners has also been rightly criticised – consistently since the 1980s – from feminist and post-colonial positions for risking of silencing, victimising or exploiting their subjects.  

Gaining knowledge about different systems, contexts, and cultures is an aim for both social science research and social documentary photography. Although the techniques, practices and outcomes are different, both struggle with similar basic issues, issues that are also ethical: Can we claim that what we study / describe offers a ”truthful” depiction? What and who is included and what is excluded in the “framing”? What is our own role in the image we convey of what we study or document? To what extend can we give a credible picture of something we are not a part of (or at best, only temporarily a part of)? And to what extent are we creating our own interpretive precedence and our own ”reality”? How do we as researchers and photographers avoid exercising symbolic violence over those we study and document via photography? How can we collaborate with and learn from the “reality” of the social groups we study or document ?

This symposium challenges us as photographers, researchers and viewers to be self-reflexive and engage in dialogue about ethical responsiveness and inclusive strategies in image and knowledge production. 


Fred Ritchin (Dean emeritus of the International Center of Photography and former professor of Photography & Imaging at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.)

Erina Duganne (Associate Professor of Art History in the School of Art and Design at Texas State University)

Laura Junka-Aikio (Photographer and researcher in political and cultural studies)

Leonid Tsoy (Psychologist, author, gestalt therapist based in Saint Petersburg)

Natalya Petukhova (Art historian, curator and an inclusion specialist working in the State Russian Museum and coordinator of the project Shirota & Dolgota.)

Kent Klich (Photographer)

Martin Hand (Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Queen’s University, Canada)


The design of the symposium will be based on participants’ contributions. We welcome proposals for paper presentations and other activities related to the questions and topics outlined above. Paper sessions will be held on both days of the two-day symposium. Conference participation is free of charge, but participants will need to cover any necessary travel and accommodation expenses. If you are interested in joining us in September, please submit your idea for participation, paper or an abstract by uploading it as a pdf and filling out this form.

The deadline for submitting an idea, abstract or paper for consideration is 6 May 2021. The symposium will include a total of 20 paper presentations, selected from the open call by the Department of Sociology, Lund University, the Hasselblad Foundation and Landskrona Foto.

Notification of acceptance will be made by email on 15 May.

Confirmation of participation is expected by 20 May.

A preliminary programme will be posted on the Landskrona Foto website on 25 May.

The symposium will begin early in the morning of 30 September, so those travelling a greater distance than locally are advised to arrive in Landskrona on 29 of September.

Covid-19: The plan is to host this conference on-site, but parts of it might take place in digital formats.

If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact Jenny Nordquist or Britt-Marie Johansson


Submission deadline 6 May 2021

Notification of acceptance 15 May 2021

Symposium 30 September and 1 October 2021

In connection with the symposium, Landskrona Foto will host Kent Klich`s exhibition “A tree called home” a social documentary photographic study of a PNI (Psycho-neurological asylum) in Russia that Kent Klich followed and documented for 17 years. This exhibit raises among others the issues of power relations between individuals, roles and systems. It challenges us about how we equip ourselves to and carry out ethical decision-making processes regarding the vulnerable and disenfranchised who cannot express their will in such process, as well as the social and ethical imperative to investigate, document, and convey the existence of oppression in society, be it our own or others, and the singular force and complementarity of the photographic image and the written word.