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Personal profile

Research interests

My research sits across multiple strands:

Visual Culture, Photographic Archives

Memory, Migration, Contested Topographies, Exile Studies

Reactivating Archives through Artistic Interventions

Photography and Critical Pedagogy

I am the co-research lead for the Visual Culture, History and Memory strand at the Centre for Memory, Narrative and Histories.

https://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/cmnh/our-activities/our-academic-themes/visual-culture-history-and-memory/

I am also a member of CMNH's and the Centre of Resilience for Social Justice' steering groups. 

In my research I investigate archival traces within the context of collective memory and migration narratives and explore how neglected archival sources have the potential to reveal forgotten histories that can alter our understanding  of the past and present. Through the use of creative and interpretive visual approaches, using photography as a tool to think about historical experience, multiple articulations of memory and meaning are expressed, with the aim of generating new academic knowledge. The author Ben Okri has described 'the artist [as] a conduit through which lost things are recovered' (2005); and my own research methodology considers archival research as a material, embodied practice. Through extensive investigation in archival collections, I gather material and map out a strategy and approach and often travel to the sites that have historical significance for each of my own research projects.

Through reactivation and visualisation, using photography as the key medium, past memories are reframed and resituated in the present. Combining an archaeological with a genealogical approach, traces are documented; their significance to the present assessed, as some of the historical functions are lost or no longer important. The genealogical approach necessitates an investigation that starts in the present, a retracing of the journey, that is physical and experimental, setting up encounters and dialogues. Lost and recovered narratives have been a key theme of my work to date. Memory and migration narratives of emigration (Two Sisters), exile and loss (Traces), exploration (Retracing Heinrich Barth), displacement (Leaving Atlantis), expedition/peregrination (My Canadian Pilgrimage) and interwar home-making (Fabricating Lureland)  have been visualized and probed using the language of photography. These projects have been disseminated through public exhibitions, at conferences, exhibition catalogue publications and public engagement workshops, as well as informing my own teaching practice.

For the past twenty years, I have undertaken extensive work with and within communities in Hong Kong, West Africa, Canada and the UK to enable broader access to personal cultural heritage amongst disadvantaged areas and demographics. I have sought to improve inclusivity of knowledge production and to reanimate disconnected or underdeveloped narratives and histories. Oscillating between photographic and archival research, photography is mobilized to reconstruct collective memories and give them a renewed cultural presence.

 

 

 

Supervisory Interests

My interdisciplinary research focuses on working with visual archives and collections. Memory and migration narratives, contested topographies, exile studies, co-production of knowledge and photography & activism are particular areas of interest. 

For PhD applicants:

I currently co-supervise five Phd students at the University of Brighton and one Phd student at the University of Salzburg. Two of these Phd projects are practice-based.

I welcome Phd application inquiries that interact with any of the following: 

Working with Archives and Collections: Photographic archives, Community archives, Museums, Private Collections

Memory Studies: Postmemory, transnational memory, cultural memory, communicative memory, personal memory

Art practice as research: visual, creative and ethnographic research methods/photo voice/photo elicitation/digital media technologies, site-specific interventions

Co-production of knowledge: popular education methodology, participatory methods, oral history, histoire croisée/regards croisés methodologies

Photography and activism: community art practice (global, historical & contemporary) and critical pedagogy

Photographers in Exile in Britain: contributions made by emigrés to the field of Applied Arts

 

 

 

Scholarly biography

I am a photographer, academic, experienced participatory arts facilitator, curriculum developer and principal lecturer at the University of Brighton, School of Media, where I have worked since 2004.

Between 2009-2011 I was Teaching Fellow at SOAS, Department of Anthropology and Sociology.

I have exhibited widely, including at the Motorenhalle, Dresden (2018),  Brunei Gallery, SOAS (Retracing Heinrich Barth, 2008) and the Austrian Cultural Forum, London (Traces, 2012). I have been working as an Art Education Consultant since 2006, with regular engagements on the TOE (Through Our Eyes) program, run between 2014-2018 by the Kaitak Research Centre, Hong Kong Baptist University.

My interdisciplinary research brings together knowledge gained from degrees in African Studies & Anthropology and Social Work at the University of Toronto  and Photography at the University of Brighton. 

In my new monograph Fabricating Lureland, published in De Gruyter's cultural memory series, I have interrogated a previously underexplored archival collection through visual and creative research methods combined with oral history. Focusing on the interwar period and tracing mutating agendas, the book investigates the construction of a speculative development and tracks the visual programme of the in-house magazine, Peacehaven Post, alongside blueprints and promotional guidebooks. The resarch explores the garden city narrative as a form of social Utopia and reconstitutes a historical context, revisiting propositions of the time, which aspired to secure improved public health and home ownership in direct response to the negative impact of industrialization and WWI.

https://www.degruyter.com/document/isbn/9783110734027/html

A review by Dennis Hardy in Planning Perspectives can be found here:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02665433.2022.2133437

Contested topographies and cross-cultural narratives of exile and hybridity have also been explored through writing and publishing in other contexts, including Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Internee: Fred Uhlman in Captivity (2009), a co-authored book (with Charmian Brinson and Anna Müller-Härlin) that explores the role of the artist/witness during WWII.

With generous research support by Prof. Paul Newman and the late Prof. Tony Kirke-Greene, I was able to revive the extraordinary life story of James Henry Dorugu and turn it into the extensive journal article 'Regards Croisées: James Henry Dorugu’s 19th century European Journey'. This work built on my photographic project Retracing Heinrich Barth. The essay was later translated by German charity Mate Ni Kane into French and German in order to disseminate it to communities across Niger. I was invited to write an introduction, ‘Dorougou, un fils de la region de Zinder’ for Tarihin Dorugu – Histoire de Dorougou published in French and Hausa by Albasa in Niamey, Niger (2015). This now reintroduces the story of Dorugu to young people across Niger and ensures that future generations know the story of this remarkable and brave early African explorer, who also came to Europe. 

Other recent publications, foregrounding the contribution of photographers in exile,  include the chapter 'Making Friends: Wolf Suschitzky's Tierfotografien im Prisma des Exils'  in Mensch und Tier in Reflexionen des Exils (2021); 'Quite Content to be called a good craftsman': an exploration of some of Wolf Suschitzky's extensive contributions to the field of applied photography' for Applied Arts in British Exile from 1933: Changing Visual and Material Culture (2019);  'The first rule of photography is patience: the photographs of Wolf Suschitzky' in Seven Decades of Photography (2014).

Between 2013-2017 I was co-researcher, with Prof Adrienne Chambon, Prof Vid Ingelevics, Prof Ernie Lightman, and Beth Good and Mary Anderson on the SSHRC funded Children of the City: from street to playground, which mobilized a collection of archival photographs of urban street scenes taken in Toronto at the turn of the last century.

https://www.fromstreetstoplaygrounds.com/research-project

The journal article ‘Compelling Evidence: mobilizing the Carlton Hill photographic archive’, in Visual Methodologies (2017), co-written with Adrienne Chambon and supported by Selma Montford, describes our associated exhibition 'Carlton Hill: the children of Brighton’s displaced community' (exhibited at Brighton's Jubilee Library, 2016; University Catholica, Lisbon, 2016).

As part of this grant I co-curated the exhibition' From Streets to Playgrounds' (2016-17) at the City of Toronto Archives Gallery, which included an education program. I also initiated and curated  the exhibition 'Photographic Memories - Lost Corners of Paris: The Children of Cité Lesage-Bullourde and Boulogne-Billancourt' at the Alliance Francaise Pierre Leon Gallery in Toronto. This featured photographs taken by the pionnering photographer Marilyn Stafford, many of which were exhibited for the first time and attracted substantial media attention. These photographs were also shown in Paris at the Sorbonne Nouvelle, Maison de la Recherche (2020) where they formed the focus of a research symposium in November 2020 that I initiated and organized with support from Prof. Henri Scepi and Patrice Roland from the Maison de la Recherche. 

The full webinar can be viewed here: 

http://www.univ-paris3.fr/regards-croises-autour-des-photographies-de-marilyn-stafford-608373.kjsp?RH=1207746285942

The exhibition is accompanied by a new research catalogue, Les Enfants de la Cité Lesage-Bullourde et Boulogne Billancourt, Paris, 1950’s (2020). 

In 2022, I published a new essay on the cultural significance of Marilyn Stafford's Cité Lesage-Bullourde photographs, commissioned by Dr. Kylie Thomas for a special issue on Photography and Resistance in the peer-reviewed journal MAI: Feminism & Visual Culture.

https://maifeminism.com/shaping-a-space-of-understanding-marilyn-staffords-post-war-street-photographs-of-cite-lesage-bullourde-paris/

 

 

Approach to teaching

I am an active PhD supervisor and APR reader and I have also acted as external examiner, most recently to examine MA dissertations at Canterbury Christ Church University (2020) and a practice-based PhD at Birkbeck (2021).  

Between 2019 - 2022, I was the course leader for MA Digital Media, Culture & Society, an innovative programme that stays responsive to key developments in digital media cultures.

https://www.brighton.ac.uk/courses/study/digital-media-culture-and-society-ma.aspx

On the MA DMCS, I continue to module lead two mandatory research modules:  MJM01 Practicing Media Research and MJM90 Research Dissertations. I also lead  MJM07 Participatory Media Production for Social Change, a module that offers theoretical, historical and international perspectives to co-production and promotes social engagement and working in partnership with local and national charities. 

I also teach on MA Photography.  Across the years, I have developed many new modules; for example, I was module leader on BA Photography for several practice-based modules, including Experimental Archaeology,  a module on reactivating photographic archives. I also taught into a journalism module, highlighting the importance of socially engaged photography and active citizenship and developed and then convened the mandatory professional practice module on BA Photography for more than a decade. 

Despite having worked at UoB since 2004, I continue to discover new and rewarding ways of teaching and facilitation and have often been nominated for teaching awards (in the inspirational teaching award category and for the Excellence in Facilitating and Empowering Learning award).

Prior to working at the University of Brighton, I taught photography at Cambridge School of Art, Anglia Ruskin University and have also been invited to run photography masterclasses internationally, including at Dresden Summer Academy of Visual Arts.

 

 

 

Knowledge exchange

Most of my solo and collaborative projects have had educational and participatory elements. As an art education consultant with artists undergoing training to become educators, I have coached artists to develop curricula that inspire and encourage students’ creativity and independence through the arts. Much of my work is interdisciplinary, based on models of co-production of knowledge and I have engaged with communities outside of Academia and in many parts of the world. Through my close working connections with the Centre of Resilience for Social Justice and the Centre of Memory, Narrative and Histories (alongside my membership with the Centre for Digital Cultures and Innovation), I network, exchange resources and knowledge on a regular basis.

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Brighton

Master, University of Toronto

Bachelor, University of Toronto

External positions

Trustee at SEAS

20182021

Art education consultant

2006 → …

Keywords

  • TR Photography
  • visual methods
  • photographic archives
  • photography
  • visual culture
  • contested topographies
  • exile studies
  • memory studies
  • cultural memory

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