Explorations on the Event of Photography: Dasein, Dwelling, and Skillful Coping in a Cuban Context


In the summer of 2016, the author traveled to Havana to begin preliminary work on an interdisciplinary visual ethnography project. While venturing primarily on foot, he took hundreds of high-resolution photographs and interviewed people at random across several localities about their daily routine, their neighborhood, and their expectations about what was to come following the [then] normalizing of relations with the United States. Of the utmost importance to this work was the special attention granted to the inhabited locale where each photograph and interview took place. This article explores these photographs through the lens of the “event of photography,” a term emphasizing the temporal moment when a photographer, photographed subject, and camera encounter one another. With this interpretation, photographs are positioned as historical documents and the practice of photography as a civil and political matter, thus inviting new possibilities to read political life through its visual dimension, as well as to trace different forms of power relations made evident during the ‘event.’ This paper uses phenomenological reflection to explore the meshwork manifestation of these power relations, and articulate how they provide insights about one’s place and responsibility within that ‘event’ in a range of relational contexts.


Photography; Latin America; Cuba; Heidegger; Skillful Coping

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Published : 2022-12-31

BattinJ. (2022). Explorations on the Event of Photography: Dasein, Dwelling, and Skillful Coping in a Cuban Context. Review of International American Studies, 15(2), 49-70. https://doi.org/10.31261/rias.14868

Justin Michael Battin  justin.battin@icloud.com
RMIT University in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam  Viet Nam

Justin Michael Battin is Senior Lecturer of Communication at RMIT University in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. His research intersects strands of phenomenological and existential philosophy with the everyday uses of mobile media technologies and mobile social media. He is the author of Mobile Media Technologies and Poiēsis: Rediscovering How We Use Technology to Cultivate Meaning in a Nihilistic World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) and co-editor of We Need to Talk About Heidegger: Essays Situating Martin Heidegger in Contemporary Media Studies (Peter Lang, 2018) and Reading Black Mirror: Insights into Technology and the Post-Media Condition (transcript, 2021).

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