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.
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.
Entries for the 2014 competition must be received by February 17, 2014. Winners will be notified by April 7, 2014. Up to three cash prizes will be awarded at the ISA's XVIII World Congress of Sociology, Facing an Unequal World: Challenges for Global Sociology, to be held in Yokohama, Japan in July 2014. Attendance at the Congress is not a requirement. The first prize will be $2,500 USD, the second $1,500, and the third $500. The prize will be awarded biennially.