2024 Image and Object Symposium: Agency



agency image and object





Friday 24th May

Raptakos Seminar Room

St Catherine’s College

14:00 - 16:00

Free admission




Agency is everywhere. How we make decisions and enact them in the world has been the subject of countless philosophical works, while the relationship between individual capacities and wider social structures remains a foundational concern in sociology. In recent years, a growing number of theorists have shifted their attention to non-human agents, while the global drift towards right-wing populism has placed the agencies of political actors at the forefront of public debate. At the same time, unprecedented advances in AI have cast doubt on the future of human agency itself, dividing opinion about how much control people will retain over essential decision-making with the accelerated spread of new technological systems. 


Drawing on these issues, this year’s Image & Object symposium invites speakers from across the University of Oxford to give a short talk about a particular image or object that for them raises questions around the theme of agency. Hosted by the History of Art Department, the event will bring together scholars from different disciplinary backgrounds to discuss what agency means to them, and to reflect on what significance the concept might have for the world today.




Ben Bollig (Modern Languages): 'Filming Agency in Incarceration. Objects and Images of Tenderness from Pedro Speroni’s Rancho'

Sam Ritholtz (Politics): ’Grief Materialisms as Feminist Political Praxis in Colombia’

Sneha Krishnan (Geography): ‘Photographing Necessitous Children in the Colony'

Di Wang (History of Art): ‘Nourishing Pictures’

Justine Varga (Ruskin): ‘It’s Complicated: Photography and Agency’



Organised by Marko Ilić