The Award

Every photographer faces a set of moral and political choices about how to use their camera and how to represent the people they depict. No camera is a passive bystander, simply and passively recording some external reality; cameras have the point of view of their owners. Is the camera a weapon, reducing the powerful to mere mortality (like Richard Avedon) or making the familiar strange and grotesque (like Diane Arbus)? Rachel makes a choice to go the other way, in the tradition more of Dorothea Lange or Eve Arnold, reminding us of the simple dignity and even breathtaking beauty of the people over whom the economic machine runs in the march towards profits. Her photographs of Maasai women or Guatemalan peasant women reveal a resilience and grace that is poetic in its simple beauty. There is a marked gender difference in the photographs. The women relate to the camera, smile or stare directly into it, proud, tall, and engaged. The men seem far sadder; they look away from the camera, down, to the side, refusing to engage with the lens. Perhaps the toll is greater on them, since the penetration of the global market into traditional life not only displaces them from their land but also upends their traditional domestic privileges. The women may hold up half the sky, but they also seem to have their feet more firmly planted on the ground.

Michael Kimmel
Stony Brook University

The purpose of the Rachel Tanur Memorial Prize for Visual Sociology is to encourage students to incorporate visual analysis in their study and understanding of social phenomena. The contest is open worldwide to undergraduate and graduate students (majoring in any social science). Students must be currently enrolled or have received their degrees no earlier than the end of the term finishing just before the meeting of the International Sociological Association (ISA) at which the prize is to be awarded.

Prizes will be awarded by the Research Committee on Visual Sociology of the ISA. The first prize will be $2,500 USD, the second $1,500, and the third $500. The prize is awarded biennially.

Jury (2020 Competition)

  • Vilna Bashi Treitler, UC Santa Barbara (USA)
  • Maria-Carolina Cambre, Concordia University (Canada)
  • Vera Chang, UC Berkeley (USA)
  • Naydene de Lange, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (South Africa)
  • Cornelia Eckert, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil)
  • Li Hanlin, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (China)
  • Terence Heng, University of Liverpool (UK)
  • Anna Inés Heras, CEDESI-UNSAM- CONICET and INCLUIR (Argentina)
  • Analía Inés Meo, CONICET- UBA (Argentina)
  • Camilo Leon Quijano, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (France)
  • Vu Manh Loi, Viet Nam Graduate Academy of Social Sciences and Institute of Sociology (IOS),Viet Nam Academy of Social Sciences (Vietnam)
  • Elsa Oliveira, University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)
  • Susan Opotow, City University of New York (USA)
  • Nikita Pokrovsky, National Research University Higher School of Economics (Russia)
  • Flaminia Sacca, Università della Tuscia (Italy)
  • Maria Sereti, Independent Researcher (Greece)
  • Judy Tanur, Stony Brook University (USA)
  • Dao Thi Khanh Hoa, Independent Researcher (Vietnam)
  • Levi Vonk, UC Berkeley (USA)
  • Sarah Wilson, University of Stirling (UK)