The Magnum Foundation fosters creativity and diversity in documentary photography, activating new audiences and ideas through the innovative use of images. Through grant-making, mentoring, and creative collaborations, we partner with socially engaged image-makers experimenting with new models for storytelling.
Magnum Foundation is accepting proposals for Photography in Collaboration: Migration and Religion. Photography in Collaboration inspires photographers to expand upon their practice by working with creative partners in a range of other disciplines to create new forms for storytelling. This year, we are supporting projects that further understanding of the politically significant and vastly complex intersections of migration and religion.
We are looking to support projects on migration and religion that challenge familiar representational tropes. We will support projects that are careful interdisciplinary explorations at the intersection of migration and religion, broadly defined, and that explore how forms of social organization transform under the pressures and processes of migration. Applicants are encouraged to explore a range of stories that illuminate this theme; a suggested list of potential frameworks appear in the Conceptual and Topical Frameworks section below.
Up to five selected projects will receive production grants of up to $25,000. Support for this initiative is generously provided by the The Henry Luce Foundation. Proposals are due by July 13, 2018 at 11:59pm EST.
All are welcome to apply. We especially encourage applications from individuals who are part of racial, gender, sexual, ethnic, or religious minority groups, and others whose authorship is unevenly represented within the field of documentary photography.
Photographers and project team members must be free to own and publish their own work, and not be subject to work-for-hire restrictions. Magnum Foundation provides production grants, and not awards for already completed projects. Photographers may apply for grants to produce a new body of work, or a chapter of a continued body of work. Proposals for new projects should reflect thorough research and demonstrate the photographer’s capacity to do the work. Applicants must be available to attend a project development lab in New York City on September 28 & 29, 2018. All costs associated with participation the laboratory will be covered by the program.
Through Sumbitttable, applicants will be required to provide:
1. A written proposal
2. Description of collaboration partner
3. Engagement and distribution strategy
4. Estimated budget
5. Photography sample
MAGNUM FOUNDATION REVIEW PROCESS AND CRITERIA
Proposals will be reviewed by a committee that will select projects at its sole discretion, based on the goals for this initiative and material submitted by the applicant. The committee will be comprised of Magnum Foundation in addition to two experts on the topic of religion. The committee’s deliberations will be confidential and will not be subject to further inquiries by applicants. Once selected, a Project Plan outlining the approved project, including a proposed budget, will be agreed upon by the project team and Magnum Foundation. Below are the criteria by which proposals will be evaluated.
• Projects should expand public knowledge on the topic of religion.
• Proposal articulates topic and proposed story with depth and nuance.
• Proposed collaboration is innovate and critical for achieving the proposed idea.
• Applicants’ work should be photography-based, though may include other media or creative approaches. Work should be experimental but aligned with the values and practice of documentary photography.
• Proposals should articulate specific, creative, and effective plans for how the work will engage audiences.
• Proposed work should be reasonable to produce within 6 months and within the proposed budget.
• Proposal should be well researched and demonstrate that applicant has prior experience and knowledge necessary to complete the project effectively, safely, and ethically.
BBC World Service will be funding the production of up to three audio documentaries with and about the work of selected project photographers for radio and podcast transmission. These documentaries will bring photographers’ subjects’ stories alive in audio interview and location sound for a wide global audience of 75 million. As part of their commitment BBC World Service is also interested to collaborate with selected photographers to create innovative audio-visualtreatments alongside these audio documentaries. They will bring photographers and the BBC’s audio and digital teams together to discuss these treatments. These innovative treatments may involve creating an audiovisual presentation from still footage to form a digital video, and/or the filming of photographers as they work, and the BBC are interested to develop and explore other innovative possibilities. Content may be published on a range of BBC platforms (including BBC World Service and BBC News websites), the BBC’s social media pages, and may be syndicated by the BBC’s partners. Credits for photographers on BBC platforms will be in line with BBC guidelines.
In your application, you will be asked to indicate YES/NO whether you are interested in having your project considered for potential collaboration with BBC World Service.
Projects will be assessed for this BBC partnership according to the following additional criteria: their potential for compelling audio, the ambition and creativity of proposed audio-visual treatments, and that the audio story can be successfully realised in the English language––either entirely in English or with a combination of English and translated voiceover.
APPLICATION PROCESS AND PRODUCTION TIMELINE:
July 13 2018 Applications due
August 31 2018 Selected teams notified
September 28 & 29 Project Development Laboratory in NYC
April 15 2019 Projects due to be completed
May 2019 Distribution and and targeted engagement
CONCEPTUAL AND TOPICAL FRAMEWORKS
The history of religion is a history of movement. But what happens when religion is on the move? Studies of migration and religion have often treated religion as a resource for people who are coping with the shock of the new–or worse, as little more than a symbolic identity marker amid settler colonial violence and forced displacement. Here, however, we are interested in examining how an interdisciplinary approach to religious practice and migratory experiences might illuminate the dynamic interplay between the limited situations in which people find themselves and the capabilities they nonetheless possess for creating viable, even vibrant, forms of social life. Religion is an embodied and spatial phenomenon that intersects with political and economic structures of migration in complex and often unexpected ways. This program aims to bring insight and nuance to public understandings of migration and religion, while also contributing to the field of documentary photography through developing innovative methods with a focus on collaboration and interdisciplinarity.
We are offering a series of conceptual frameworks and topics that are not meant to be comprehensive or proscriptive, but we hope you will use them as inspiration and resources for developing your proposals. History, Racialization, Gender, Economics, and Storytelling are fundamentally important modes of thinking about migration and religion. With them, we offer background, terminology, and critiques to encourage critical, new approaches to image-making. Community, Borders, Pathways, Institutions, Places, and Liberation are more granular and specific subject areas that we hope will prompt applicants to think about which stories they want to tell, and how they want to tell them.
How we talk about the historical layers of migration and religion–much less capture these visually––is far from obvious. What images are conjured when we think about communities in diaspora? What matters to people and what are the materials through which they care for and transmit their histories? Like the traces that remain on a palimpsest, landscapes bear witness to histories of migration and religion. How do we excavate these histories through images? How do we balance these intimate glimpses into the histories of migration and religion on people and places without losing sight of the large and global forces that produce movement? What is the pictured story of these conditions that structure movement? What are the complex and unpredictable ends to which migration and religion extend?
Racialization is the language of good and bad migration, and of good and bad religion. Power and difference prefigure not only whose movement is welcomed and whose movement is forcibly blocked through legislation, walls, and stories of ‘bad hombres’ and ‘shithole countries.’ They also determine the very religious forms that are allowed to move–and those that are so beyond recognition they must be civilized, sanitized, contained, domesticated. Racialization, however, is not only the purview of the powerful. How do we avoid reifying the optics and logics of European enlightenment and of empire when talking about race-making and religious imagination on the move? How have visions of religion and racial identity been crafted otherwise by migrants? What new possibilities do these insurgent forms of self and world-building through migration and religion open?
Religion has, in myriad ways, been used to write and rewrite the rules and possibilities for gender. Religion orders and disciplines gender from birth (think of circumcision and naming) to maturity (rites of sexual maturity and adulthood) to marriage, reproduction, and, of course, beyond. Religion has been the basis for discrimination and oppression and for reimagination and community. How does movement–between communities, traditions, countries–change gender politics and gender identities? And how do new ways of thinking about gender affect religious doctrine and practices? How are gender roles and identities reified and transformed in dislocation and relocation?
The term “economic migrant” has been used to single out and contain certain kinds of hope and movement; it has been used to elevate certain motivations and dismiss others. But, really, is any migrant not an economic migrant? When have the forces of trade and capital ever been absent from the story of migration? Mass resettlement has always been compelled, at least in part, by economic concerns intersecting and intertwining with religion. But, so often, these financial forces are treated as invisible. How do we make these forces visible? How could we make images that show us the persistent entanglement of religion, economics, and movement? [Examples: How do we see the Prosperity Gospel traveling? What would it mean to show indigenous land protection as both economically and religiously motivated? Can we see Islamophobia stifling opportunity in America and Europe? How do media and technology accelerate and amplify these forces?]
Stories move us. They take us from a beginning to a point beyond. They are also how we make sense. With stories, we turn details into events; we also give shape and structure to our worlds. But what stories do we tell about migration and religion? And perhaps even more importantly: HOW do we tell these stories? What is always beyond the borders of an image? How can we layer images to hold the complexities of migration and religion? What new forms of storytelling emerge? How do the uprooted keep and make memories when they cannot bring their material lives with them?
Religion is one of the most important ways that communities form roots in a place. Religious communities (and their beliefs and practices) are often bound to the earth, anchored deep so that they can grow and change. But religious communities have also always moved–relocating by choice, and not. So, what happens when those communities uproot? What do religious communities on the move look like? From the diaspora to chosen families, migration and religion disconnect and connect people. How do we see migration and religion forming and reforming families, neighborhoods, and nations? How do we communicate when we are on the move? What new forms of social organization and culture emerge? How are societies made and unmade on the move? What opportunities for connection and identity formation arise in relocation and what communities bonds are lost when they are left behind?
Borders and boundaries are an obvious feature of both religious life and migration. Boundaries are drawn to keep some people in, and others out. To tell us who goes where, and who cannot go there. How do those lines get drawn? Who draws them? When and how do they get redrawn? How do colonialism, imperialism, nationalism, and occupation respond to and enforce boundaries on religious people and communities? How are those borders used to mythologize and racialize? And what about the boundaries within groups, lines drawn around gender identities and roles, for instance? What role do religious institutions have in drawing and redrawing these lines? How are they enforced architecturally? Cartographically? Economically? Politically?
Traditionally, migrations have been analyzed as a tension between push and pull factors––that is, the issues, challenges, and injustices in a place of origin that “push” movement, and the possibilities, opportunities, and imaginaries in a place of destination that “pull” movement. What this push-pull focus obscures, however, is the journey itself. Pathways that have been laden with religious significance and meaning. Perhaps the most obvious of these are pilgrimage routes. Nevertheless, we might also observe that under every migrant’s feet, there is a pathway––a bridge––that makes movement possible. What are the pathways and circuits of migration? How do former colonial bonds, global industry, tourism, or familial histories open some routes while also closing others? How do we understand religion when we descend into the intimacies of these pathways and bridges? What meaning is made and stitched along a railway line? How does migration make new sacred pathways?
We often hear people say that they are wary of “institutional religion.” But many institutions, be they state or non-state actors, are religious. Not just churches, mosques, and temples, but also multinational corporations and human rights organizations, militaries and hospitals. Missionaries, armies, prisons, and economic markets, have displaced and reshaped how and where people live for centuries. And so too have infrastructural and transportation systems such as ship-building, railways, highways, shifts in land use policy and property rights. How can we more clearly see the relationship between these institutions, religion, and migration? Where can we see power located and deployed? How do these systems get repurposed or reconfigured and by whom? Churches that were invasions are now sanctuaries in some places. International aid is vital, but fraught. Where do we see systemic power take shape and move people? How could we see it more clearly or differently?
Religious places are everywhere. Not just churches on corners or temples on hilltops, but in our homes, in our cars, on our backs. So what makes a place holy? How does is land sanctified and worshiped? How do we get from one sacred place to another? How does our sense of place change when we think about the relationship between forced and free movement, between movement and stasis? Between homegoing and exile? How does religion move and get stuck–in the hold of a ship, along a transcontinental railway line, through the underdevelopment of communities and continents, in the concentrated poverty in human-made ghettos, amid the mazes and fortresses of prison cells, in the shadows of deportation regimes? Where are the sacred places that have been erased, or do not exist yet, or that have not yet been able to build or reach?
Freedom dreams permeate studies of migration and religion. In the wake of the abolition of slavery in the US, the explicit question “Free to do what?” was answered insurgently by formerly enslaved people: “Free to move.” Their first steps were regional ones: people on the move to reassemble their families that had been sold and scattered among farflung plantations. In the decades to come, the sacred movement of more than seven million migrants fleeing the racialized terror of the Jim Crow South would remake the American nation. What hopes and dreams do migrants pack along with basic necessities? What imaginaries sustain them on the journey? How can being unbounded from community bonds and expectations bring different freedoms? What new and possible futures are stitched along the way? What forms of art and theory that have been crafted to hold these freedom dreams–Queer Futurity, Afro-Futurism, Surrealism, Liberation Theology, Womanism? What does a theological imagination of liberation look, sound, and taste like on the move? What happens when that liberation is foreclosed and premised on the (im)possibility of return?
PROGRAM ADVISOR BIOGRAPHIES
The conceptual and topical frameworks were conceptualized and written by Laura McTighe, PhD (Dartmouth Society of Fellows) and Kali Handelman (NYU Center for Religion and Media). McTighe is a collaborative ethnographer and oral historian, who works at the intersections of religious studies, anthropology, geography, critical race studies, and gender studies. Her research and teaching employ migration and religion as critical frameworks for excavating histories of racialization and struggle in the US, with particular attention to settler colonialism, carcerality, and comparative abolitions. The public focus of her scholarship is informed by her twenty years of work in movements to end AIDS and prisons, as well as her sustained commitment to building bridges among scholars, activists, artists, journalists, and other visionary practitioners. Handelman has a background in religious studies, cultural and media studies, literature, and visual art. Running throughout her work is a commitment to thinking about politics, language, and violence and what different fields of inquiry have to offer one another. As an editor and program coordinator at NYU, she has focused on helping scholars and journalists to engage with new and wider audiences. McTighe and Handelman have been partners on a variety of projects concerning religion, race, criminalization, violence, and gender.
This program is generously supported supported by The Henry Luce Foundation. It is part of a partnership between the Open Society Foundations and the Magnum Foundation to support and advance visual storytelling about migration. The Project Development Lab is produced in partnership with The Brown Institute for Media Innovation.