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Lifetime achievement honour for photographic history professor

A prestigious Lifetime Achievement award has been given to a distinguished professor at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) for her work on early photographs within anthropological research.

Professor Elizabeth Edwards

For more than 30 years, Professor Elizabeth Edwards, the director of the Photographic History Research Centre at DMU, has been working on 19th and early 20th century colonial and anthropological images.

She has earned an international reputation for developing a deep understanding of the relationships between photography, anthropology and history.

She recently completed a major EU-funded project on the contemporary legacy of colonial photographs.

Professor Edwards is the first woman, and the first Briton, to be awarded the Lifetime Achievement honour by the Society for Visual Anthropology, a sub-group of the American Anthropological Association.

The award, which has only been presented on four previous occasions, goes to “individuals whose body of work is recognised for its exemplary impact on the field of anthropology.”

She has previously held posts as Curator of Photographs at Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum and as lecturer in visual anthropology at Oxford University and at the University of the Arts in London.

Last year, Professor Edwards was named as one of the world’s top 50 most influential writers on photography, both living and historical, having written seminal work on the social practices of and materiality of photography.


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In announcing the award, the Society for Visual Anthropology said: “She has done seminal work on the social practices of photography and on the materiality of photographs, elucidating the nature of such images as historical evidence and the frailties evident in the institutional practices of photo archives and museums.

“Through her publications, teaching, and research, she continues to give us creative new perspectives on the nature of photography and the way in which photography can be harnessed as cultural and historical memory.”

The Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Professor Edwards at the Society for Visual Anthropology’s awards ceremony on December 6.

The research centre at DMU has also recently been commissioned by BBC Radio 3 to provide five short talks in their evening Essays series, due to be broadcast in February, following a proposal pitched to them by Professor Edwards last year.

She will be giving the final talk, following others by DMU photographic historian Dr Kelley Wilder and by colleagues from Kent, Harvard and Wesleyan universities.
Posted on Tuesday 21st October 2014

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