Thy Phu is a Professor of Media Studies at the Department of Arts, Culture, and Media at UTSC. Before joining the University of Toronto, she was based at Western University, where she taught cultural studies, American Studies, and critical theory, and has held visiting positions at the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore and Yale University. Her digital humanities research and public humanities practice lies at the intersections of visual studies, photography theory, and digital archives, with a focus on empire, race, and migration. She is author of Picturing Model Citizens: Civility in Asian American Visual Culture and co-editor of Feeling Photography. Her most recent books, Warring Visions: Vietnam and Photography and Cold War Camera, explorations of the visual mediation of the global Cold War, are forthcoming at Duke University Press. Another co-edited book, Refugee States: Critical Refugee Studies in Canada, is forthcoming at the University of Toronto Press. She is also Director and PI of The Family Camera Network, a collaborative research project that engages local communities in the building of an antiracist public archive through the collection and preservation of family photographs and their stories. In 2017, she was elected as member of the College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists at the Royal Society of Canada. She is co-founder of the research group Critical Refugee Studies Network of Canada and co-editor of the peer-reviewed journal of Trans Asia Photography.
My research centres two core themes the visual mediation of migration and memory, vision and justice, which I develop in three, related research projects. “Visual Kinship: Race and Family Photography,” funded by a SSHRC Insight Grant, will provide the first history of domestic images that examines the centrality of race in the construction of a visual vocabulary of domesticity. The second is The Family Camera Network, a collaborative project that builds a public digital archive of family photographs and their stories as a research to trace new transnational histories of Canada. The third is an interdisciplinary research collective that I co-founded, The Critical Refugee Studies Network of Canada, which centres refugee experiences in developing innovative approaches to understanding histories of forced displacement.
Digital Archives, Visual Studies, Photography Studies, Critical Race Studies, Asian North American Studies, Critical Refugee Studies, American Studies
Picturing Model Citizens: Civility in Asian American Visual Culture (Temple University Press, 2012)
Feeling Photography (Duke University Press, 2014)
Warring Visions: Photography and Vietnam (forthcoming at Duke University Press)
Cold War Camera (forthcoming at Duke University Press)
Refugee States: Critical Refugee Studies in Canada (forthcoming at University of Toronto Press)
“The Family Camera”
Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Mississauga
“Queering Family Photography”
Stephen Bulger Gallery
“Intimate Estrangements and the Shape of Family,” in Imagining Everyday Life: Engagements with Vernacular Photography, eds. Tina M. Campt, Marianne Hirsch, Gil Hochberg, and Brian Wallis (Steidl, 2020).
“The S-21 Archive and the Ethics of Proximate and Distant Spectatorship in the Time of Cold War Human Rights,” in The Public Life of Photography, eds. Melissa Miles and Ed Welch (Bloomsbury Press, 2020).
“The Cultural Politics of Aspiration: The Family Camera’s Mixed Feelings (co-author with Elspeth Brown) The Journal of Visual Culture 17.2 (2018): 152-165.
“Vietnamese Photography and the Look of Revolution,” in Photography and the Optical Unconscious, eds. Sharon Sliwinski and Shawn Michelle Smith (Duke University Press, 2017).
- Visual Culture and Communication
- The Selfie and Selfie Society
In the News
“Overlooked: Photography and the Smartphone.” CBC Radio: Ideas. 26 June 2018.
“Stephen Bulger Gallery Presents Two Shows for CONTACT Photography Festival 2018.” Widewalls. 20 April 2018.
“Shows to See at the Contact Photography Festival.” Canadian Art. 26 April 2018.
“This Photography Show Redefines Family with a Queer Lens.” Yohomo: Toronto Queer Culture Now. 19 April 2018.
“Five great exhibitions to check out at the Contact Photography Festival.” Toronto Star. 25 April 2018.
“Luce Lebart’s Best of 2017.” British Journal of Photography. 31 December 2017.
“11 Projects to See at the Contact Photography Festival.” Canadian Art. 27 April 2017.
“What Family Photos Reveal About National Identity.” CITYLAB. 2 June 2017.
“Living Spaces: The Family Camera at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum.” Critics at Large. 30 July 2017.
“Northern Exposure: CONTACT Photography Festival looks inward for Canada 150.” The Globe and Mail. 5 May 2017.
“Plenty of photos to ponder: At the galleries.” The Toronto Star. 4 May 2017.