2017 AWARD THEME – “HISTORY, STORY, NARRATIVE”

Historians are far from the only interested party in writing history. In a sense it is an interest we all share – whether we are talking politics, region, family birthright, or even personal experience. We are spectators to the process of history while being intimately situated within its impact and formations.

How, then, best to record it? Is it always the victor’s version? Have we not begun increasingly to record “history from below”, that lived by those who are not at the top of the power hierarchy? Are accounts of history always gender-inflected, hitherto, at least, towards men rather than women? Who gets to tell history if the issue is colonialism or class? How does geography, the power of place, intersect with history? What is the status of the personal story or narrative within the larger frame of events?

The different modes by which we see and understand history, flow and counter-flow, nevertheless come back to certain basics.

One asks whether we deceive ourselves in always asking for some grand narrative. Can there only be one narrator or is history by necessity a colloquium, contested ground? Is national history a myth? And history-writing itself: is it actually a form of fiction, an artifice which flatters to deceive? What, exactly, is a historical fact?

We hope that the broad nature of this theme will encourage photographers to submit work that addresses these perspectives, and others that connect and arise.