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Nadya Bair

Nadya Bair
Nadya Bair

Assistant Professor of Art History

Molly Root 108

Nadya Bair is a historian of photography, mass media, and global visual culture.

Her first book, The Decisive Network: Magnum Photos and the Postwar Image Market (University of California Press, 2020), received the 2021 PROSE Award in Media and Cultural Studies. Based in unprecedented archival research, the book reconstructs the daily operations of the international picture agency Magnum. Bair reframes photojournalism as a collaborative profession while showing how news images became integral to visual culture in the two decades after World War II. Her second project, focused on New York’s International Center of Photography and its founder Cornell Capa, uncovers the volatile history of making, marketing, and historicizing documentary photography from the ’60s into the digital era. 

Bair teaches a range of interdisciplinary courses on photography and modern visual culture, bridging foundational methods of visual analysis with social history and new issues raised by today’s digital environment.

Recent Courses Taught

Documentary Photography
Visualizing World War II: Art & Media
Photography Changes Everything


  • Levitt Center Faculty Research and Innovation Grant, 2021
  • Hamilton College Humanities Center Interdisciplinary Collaboration Grant, 2021-2022
  • Getty/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowship in the History of Art, 2018-19
  • Postdoctoral Associate, Yale University Digital Humanities Lab, 2017-18
  • Kenneth J. Botto Research Fellowship, Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ, 2017
  • Nadir Mohamed Postdoctoral Fellowship, Ryerson Image Centre, Toronto
  • ACLS/Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellowship, 2015-16

Select Publications

  • The Decisive Network: Magnum Photos and the Postwar Image Market (Oakland: University of California Press, 2020). Winner of the 2021 PROSE Award for best book in Media and Cultural Studies. 
  • “Photo Essays at LIFE,” in Katherine Bussard and Kristen Gresh, eds., LIFE Magazine and the Power of Photography (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2020).
  • “From Antifascism to Humanism: The Legacies of Robert Capa’s Spanish Civil War Photography” in Geoff Eley and Julia A. Thomas, eds., Visualizing Fascism (Durham: Duke University Press, 2020).
  • “Their Daily Bread: American Sponsorship and Magnum Photos’ Global Network,” American Art – 30th Anniversary issue on American Art in a Global Context 31:2 (Summer 2017): 109-117.
  • “The Decisive Network: Producing Henri Cartier-Bresson at Mid-Century,” History of Photography 40:2 (May 2016): 146-166.
  • “Never Alone: Photo Editing and Collaboration” in Jason E. Hill and Vanessa R. Schwartz, eds. Getting the Picture: The History & Visual Culture of the News (New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015).

Appointed to the Faculty: 2020

Educational Background

Ph.D., University of Southern California 
M.A., University of Southern California 
B.A., Barnard College 

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