Christopher Pinney, 2023. "Citizenship, Contingency, and Futurity: Photographic Ethnographies from Nepal, India, and Bangladesh", Citizens of Photography: The Camera and the Political Imagination, Christopher Pinney, The PhotoDemos Collective, Naluwembe Binaisa, Vindhya Buthpitiya, Konstantinos Kalantzis, Ileana L. Selejan, Sokphea Young
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Eschewing national frames in favor of regional patterns, the chapter presents observations concerning “demotic” photographic practices in Nepal, Bangladesh, and India. It attempts to balance differences in local practices with medium specificity. The technical visual conditions of citizenship (such as in the obligatory wearing of a “Dhaka topi” in Nepal) are juxtaposed with a more diffuse “photographability,” as elaborated by Azoulay, which establishes expectations about the relationship between photographic visibility and citizenship claims. With the help of Kracauer, it is then argued that photography is best viewed as a deterritorializing and future-oriented practice that points to what is yet-to-be. The question of “contingency” is embraced in relation to medium specificity, its elimination or minimization being recognized as a cultural ideal but one that is difficult to achieve in practice. Finally, the conflict between Azoulay's vision of the (secular) “citizenry of photography” and a “messianic imagination” is described.