Ariela A sha Azoulay is a professor of Comparative Literature and Modern Culture, and Media at Brown University, as well as a curator and documentary film maker. Her many books include The Civil Contract of Photography and Civil Imagination: A Political Ontology of Photography, and she has curated exhibits for galleries and museums around the world.
"Ariella Azoulay takes on the seemingly impossible task of teaching us how to unlearn: unlearning imperialism, unlearning the archive, unlearning our complicity with regimes of violence, domination and exploitation, and most importantly for this ambitious volume, unlearning photography and its capacity to foreclose `potential histories' that must urgently be realized and reclaimed. The monumental implications of unlearning are revealed with dizzying effect through her rigorous analysis, lucid writing, and vivid examples. In Potential History, she once again delivers a work of breathtaking scope that challenges us to reconfigure both what constitutes history, as well as what it means to learn from and unlearn toward its radical potential for living otherwise." - Tina Campt, author of Listening to Images "A magisterial call to reorient our relations to objects, archives, art, and plunder." - Protocols "A remarkably rich and evocative history on the problem of violence and the importance of engaging aesthetics." - Brad Evans, Los Angeles Review of Books "Azoulay has produced a unique handbook for the 2020s that details how, why, when and where to say no in the affirmative. Her greatest achievement is that, against the foreshortened horizons of a despoiling barbarism, she makes all our tomorrows thinkable." - Guy Mannes-Abbott, Third Text "Compelling ... As in her previous work, the tools Azoulay proposes are powerful precisely because of the way they implicate the faculty of imagination as a challenge to seemingly incontrovertible histories." - Ian Wallace, Artforum "An important read on the topic of museums, colonialism, and their clear relationship." - Hrag Vartanian, Hyperallergic "Potential History is not only about the past, but about the enormous possibilities of the present." - Sabrina Alli, Guernica "Offers revitalising approaches to imperialism and to photography as a cultural phenomenon, grounded in the re-cognition of the figures 'leaning against the edge' of photographs." - Louis Rogers, review31 "Azoulay has produced a unique handbook for the 2020s that details how, why, when and where to say no in the affirmative. Her greatest achievement is that, against the foreshortened horizons of a despoiling barbarism, she makes all our tomorrows thinkable." - Guy Mannes-Abbott, Notes From a Fruitstore "Across some six-hundred pages, Azoulay accomplishes that rare thing wherein her call becomes more urgent and acutely resonant even as the contours and magnitude become less perceivable and more outsized.3 By the book's end, she has thoroughly denaturalized the terms of political classification and made the claim for a worldly sovereignty beyond the nation-state." - Luke Urbain, University of Wisconsin-Madison, InVisible Culture: An Electronic Journal for Visual Culture "By creating a "potential history," Azoulay questions the imperialist construction of time, space, and politics through objects and experiences of struggles around the world, from the original peoples in the Americas, to the Congo under King Leopold II." - The Architect's Newspaper "A political call to arms that argues the need for critical examination of archive material...provocative and stimulating." - Sean Sheehan, The Prisma "Much of Potential History's 500 pages bear particular relevance to this moment of racial reckoning and faltering of neoliberal capitalism. As mass movements mobilize in the streets against anti-Black police brutality, white supremacy, and systemic, structural racism, her call for reconceptualizing "the strike" to include historians, artists, photographers, museum workers, and "the governed" seems poignant." - Stephen Sheehi, Hyperallergic