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Photo Essays

The Highlander welcomes the submission of photo essays that critically engage with the political, material, and social economies of our region of interest. We define photo essays as submissions with between 5-15 images accompanied by up to 2,000 words of text and references. The distribution of images and texts can be decided by the author. However, we ask that images are central to the submission, not merely illustrative of the community, material, or arguments, that feature in the text. We ask for critical submissions that aim to advance the understanding of Highland Asia and the methods we use to engage with the region, be it the nature of ethnographic fieldwork, photography as a documentation tool, or similar explorations.

Good submissions will be tightly focused on a single topic or defined geographical region. We encourage authors to see their photographs as interventions in scholarly and regional debates in the same way they would view written submissions. Furthermore, we expect that any images submitted are the product of ethical research partnerships with the communities represented in the images. If that was not possible for whatever reason, please raise this in your submission and explain why your submission adheres to the ethics of social science research.

Submissions should follow these guidelines:

  • Advance conversations around Highland Asia by intervening in ongoing scholarly debates.
  • Show a strong engagement with any community featured in the submission.
  • Be tightly focused on a single topic. If the topic is regional, please limit the focus to a small geographical entity such as a single city or a single village. If an author wishes to submit a broader comparative photo essay we ask for a justification as to the merits of the comparative piece for the specified subject.
  • The photographs should have some aesthetic merit, though this is secondary to the content and structure of the photo essay as a whole.

Ethics and Engagement:

We acknowledge that photography has had a complex history in Highland Asia. Photography arrived in the region entangled with colonial projects of resource extraction and documentations of racial difference. In the post-colonial period, this has been further complicated by othering representations of national minorities. At the same time, however, photography has also been a profoundly liberating medium, holding states accountable for human rights abuses and advancing social justice. Given these histories, submissions must be sensitive to photography’s multiple and difficult histories, and we will hesitate to accept any submission that cannot highlight its academic value, regardless of aesthetics.

We also encourage submissions from researchers who have had a sustained engagement with the communities or the regions that feature in their submissions. If you do not identify as being connected with the community in your images and you have only recently started working with that community or in that region, we suggest that you wait and send us your submission at a later date

If your submission covers any of the following themes: ethnic festivals, public rituals, tattooing, traditional material culture practices, we strongly suggest you narrow your focus to a specific aspect of your subject matter and use your captions to inform the reader what your critical contribution is to scholarly debates regarding contemporary or historic Highland Asia. We acknowledge that many areas of imperial interest, such as tattooing, are also of increasing indigenous interest. However, due to the fraught photographic histories of these subjects and the potential for misrepresentation, we ask for sensitivity from all submissions. To this end we welcome critical notes by authors on the photographs they did not include, topics they did not address, or voices that have been silenced through omission or erasure.

Submission Guide:

Written requirements:

We ask that the photographic essay be between 1,500 to 2,500 words. We ask for submissions to be in the format of Microsoft Word, font Arial, size 11 text. The author should stick to the broader citational guidelines for the journal [insert]. All submissions will include 50-100 words specifying the author/authors affiliations and their relationship to any communities featured in the submission.

Make a new submission to the Photo Essays section.