Photo of Carol Payne

Carol Payne

Full Professor; Associate Dean, Research and International, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Degrees:B.F.A. (York University) M.A. and Ph.D (Boston University)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 8056
Office:3rd floor, Patterson Hall


I am Full Professor of Art History and am also cross-appointed to the Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Culture (ICSLAC) and the School of Canadian Studies as well as being a Research Associate with both the Carleton Centre for Public History and the Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre.  Since 2020, I have also served as Associate Dean (Research and International) in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

My own research centres on the history of photography.  While I continue to write about other areas of photography’s history, since joining the Carleton faculty, I have mainly focused on interrogating the role photography plays in both supporting and disrupting settler colonialism in Canada. Under that theme, I coedited—with Dr. Andrea Kunard, Senior Curator of Photography at the National Gallery of Canada—the collected volume The Cultural Work of Photography in Canada (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2011). I am also the author of The Official Picture: The National Film Board of Canada’s Still Photography Division and the Image of Canada, 1941-1971 (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013). This is the first major study of the NFB Still Photography Division, an arbiter of federal values in mid-twentieth century Canada through its archive of some 250,000 photographs (largely made independently of cinematic production), hundreds of photo stories and numerous publications.

Since 2005, I have had the privilege of collaborating with various Inuit groups on photo-based history research. I have been an affiliate of Project Naming, the photo-based Inuit history research program established by the Inuit school Nunavut Sivuniksavut (NS) and Library and Archives Canada (LAC).  From 2005 to 2014, I was Principal Investigator of the research program Views from the North, which was affiliated with Project Naming in a collaboration with NS, LAC, and Carleton Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre (GCRC).  It was funded through two multi-year grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRCC).  Views from the North extends Project Naming’s photographic identification program to include oral history interviews conducted by Inuit students with Elders in their home communities. My work with Project Naming culminated in the 2022 collected volume Atiqput: Inuit Oral History and Project Naming, coedited with Beth Greenhorn (LAC), Deborah Kigjugalik Webster (Inuk anthropologist and writer), and Christina Williamson (Cultural Mediations PhD).  Atiqput features Inuit participants in Project Naming as well as some southern collaborators.

Since 2017, I have been engaged in a research project (again under SSHRCC funding) that examines and brings to light a little-known body of photographs from 1951-1958 by the Inuk hunter Joseph Idlout.  This project culminates in an online exhibition and a monograph.  The online exhibition, Ajjiliurlagit: The Photographs of Joseph Idlout has been curated with Inuk historian and educator Augatnaaq Eccles in collaboration with the Idlout family and the Nunavut Archives.  The online exhibition features a series of essays by Augatnaaq putting Idlout’s photographs in the context of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (Inuit cultural values) as well as reminiscences by Idlout family.  The forthcoming monograph The Hunter, the Crown and the Cameras: Joseph Idlout (c.1911/15-68)  and the Image of Sangussaqtauliqtilluta includes testimonies by Idlout family and other community members and a chapter co-authored with Augatnaaq Eccles.

My most recent research project, “Inuit Re-envisioning Arctic Photography: International Collaboration and Colonial Critique,” is being undertaken in collaboration with Inuk anthropologist and writer Deborah Kigjugalik Webster and Dr. Michael Bravo, Professor of the History of Science and Geography, University of Cambridge.  This research project addresses climate change in the Arctic through visual culture.  This project engages Inuit artists to re-envision historic expedition photography from the collection of the University of Cambridge’s Scott Polar Research Institute.  This project was initiated during a Cambridge Visual Culture fellowship that I held at the University of Cambridge during the fall 2023.

I supervise graduate theses and directed readings courses on topics related to the history of photography, settler colonialism, and visual culture in Canada.  In addition, I teach a range of courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including but not limited to the history of photography.

(top profile photo: Ainslie Coghill)


Book cover for Atiqput by Carol Payne

Carol Payne, Beth Greenhorn, Deborah Kigjugalik Webster, and Christina Williamson, eds. Atiqput: Inuit Oral History and Project Naming.  McGill-Queen’s, Northern and Indigenous Series (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2022).

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Carol Payne, The Official Picture: The National Film Board of Canada’s Still Photography Division and the Image of Canada, 1941-1971. (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, June 2013) Website

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Carol Payne and Andrea Kunard, eds. The Cultural Work of Photography  in Canada Co-Editor with Andrea Kunard. (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2011) Website

Websites and Exhibitions

Ajjiliurlagit image

Ajjiliurlagit: The Photographs of Joseph Idlout (1912/13 – 1968)“. Co-curated by Augatnaaq Eccles and Carol Payne with input from Idlout family members and in cooperation with the Nunavut Archives.

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In the research project Views from the North, I collaborated with the Ottawa-based Inuit training program Nunavut Sivuniksavut, Library and Archives Canada, and Carleton’s Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre on a photo-based oral history project.  This project employs Inuit students to conduct interviews with elders in Nunavut about archival photographs of their home communities.  Images are disseminated across Nunavut through a web-based cybercartographic atlas.  Take a look at the atlas (in progress):


Co-curator with Sandra Dyck (Director, Carleton University Art Gallery), The Other NFB: The National Film Board of Canada’s Still Photography Division, 1941-1971.
Organizing Institution: Carleton University Art Gallery.

Tour: Jan. 23 – May 1, 2016: Robert McLaughlin Art Gallery, Oshawa, Ontario;
(upcoming: Fall 2016: Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario;
Winter 2017: Carleton University Art Gallery.)

Recent Publications:

Black and white photo of three Inuit men holding cameras

Gar Lunney, “Governor General’s Northern Tour. Three Inuit men [Daniel N. Salluviniq (Sudlovenick), Joseph Idlout, Zebeddie Amarualik] holding Brownie cameras await the arrival of the Governor General Vincent Massey at Resolute Bay, N.W.T.” Resolute Bay, March 1956. e002265651. Photographer: Gar Lunney. National Film Board of Canada fonds, LAC.

Carol Payne (2022) “Inuit, the Crown, and Racialized Visuality: Photographs from the 1956 Canadian Governor General’s Arctic Tour, Photography and Culture,” Photography & Culture. DOI: 10.1080/17514517.2022.2096280 [OPEN ACCESS LINK]

Publication by Carol Payne in Adjusting the Lens

Carol Payne, “Disruption and Testimony: Archival Photographs, Project Naming and Inuit Memory in Nunavut,” in Sigrid Lien and Hilde Nielssen, eds. Adjusting the Lens: Indigenous Activism, Colonial Legacies, and Photographic Heritage. (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2021).

Andrea Kunard and Carol Payne, “Ted Grant The Storyteller,” National Gallery of Canada Magazine. (6 August 2020)

Carol Payne, “Althea Thauberger: L’arbre est dans ses feuilles,” National Gallery of Canada Magazine, October 2018.

Carol Payne, “Photographic Communities,” in Rebecca Basciano, Jim Burant, Michelle Gewurtz and Catherine Sinclair, eds. We’ll All Become Stories: A Survey of Art in the Ottawa-Gatineau Region.  (Ottawa: Ottawa Art Gallery: 2017), 144-156.

Carol Payne, “Culture, Memory and Community through Photographs: Developing an Inuit-based Methodology,” Anthropology and Photography. Ed. Christopher Morton, et al. (London: Royal Anthropological Institute, 2016). Anthropology and Photo Vol 5.pdf

Carol Payne, “Refracting Time: Andrew Wright’s Images of Photographic Memory” in Andrew Wright, Pretty Lofty and Heavy All at Once. Ed. Ola Wlusek and Randy Innes. (Ottawa: Ottawa Art Gallery, 2016).

Carol Payne, “Museums and Photography: Some Observations,” Muse. (July-August 2016). Download the PDF here.

Carol Payne, “’You hear it in their voice’: photographs and cultural consolidation among Inuit youths and elders,” The Oral History Reader. 3rd Edition. Eds. Alistair Thomson and Robert Perks. (London and New York: Routledge, forthcoming 2015). (Reprint of 2011 chapter of the same name listed below)

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Carol Payne, “War, Lies and the News Photo: Second World War Photographic Propaganda in PM’s Weekly (1940-1941),” Special Issue on War and Photography for Revue d’art canadienne/Canadian Art Review. XXXIX, No. 2 (Fall 2014): 29-42.

Carol Payne, Sheena Ellison, Amos Hayes. Chapter 14: “Mapping Views from the North: Cybercartographic Technology and Inuit Photographic Encounters,” in Fraser Taylor, ed. Developments in the Theory and Practice of Cybercartography: Applications and Indigenous Mapping (Elsevior, 2013), 191-200.

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Carol Payne, “The Image of Lincoln,” in The Cambridge Companion to Abraham Lincoln. Shirley Samuels, ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 40–58.

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Carol Payne, “‘You hear it in their voice’:  Photographs and Cultural Consolidation among Inuit Youths and Elders,” in Image and Memory: Oral History and Photography. Alexander Freund and Alistair Thomson, eds. (London: Palgrave Press, 2011 in press), 97-114

Carol Payne, “Through a Canadian Lens: Discourses of Nationalism and Aboriginal Representation in Governmental Photography,” in Jonathan Finn, ed. Visual Communication and Culture: Images in Action (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), chapter 20. (Reprint of 2006 chapter of the same name listed below.)

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“A Land of Youth: Nationhood and the Image of the Child in the National Film Board of Canada’s Still Photography Division” in Depicting Canada’s Children. Loren Lerner, ed. (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2009), 85-107.

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“How Shall We Use These Gifts?” Imaging the Land in The National Film Board of Canada’s Still Photography Division,” in John O’Brian and Peter White, eds. Beyond Wilderness. (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007), 153-160.

“Negotiating Photographic Modernism in USA: A Quarterly Magazine of the American Scene (1930)”  Visual Resources: An International Journal of Documentation. Vol. XXIII, No.4 (December 2007): 337-351.

“Lessons with Leah: Re-Reading the Photographic Archive of Nation in The National Film Board of Canada’s Still Photography Division” Visual Studies Vol. 21, No.1 (April 2006): 4-22.

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“Through a Canadian Lens: Discourses of Nationalism and Aboriginal Representation in Governmental Photography,” in Sheila Petty, Annie Gérin, and Garry Sherbert, eds. Canadian Cultural Poesis: An Anthology. (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2006), 421-442.

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Co-Editor (with Amy Lyford) and contributor, “Photojournalism, Mass Media and the Politics of Spectacle” special issue of Visual Resources: An International Journal of Documentation. Vol. XXI, No. 2, (June 2005).