Ariella Azoulay is an author, art curator, filmmaker, and theorist of photography and visual culture. She is Professor of Modern Culture and Media and the Department of Comparative Literature at Brown University. Before arriving at Brown, she was Gladstein Visiting Professor at the Human Rights Center of the University of Connecticut and Leverhulme Research Professor at Durham University. She is the author of Civil Imagination: The Political Ontology of Photography (2012) and The Civil Contract of Photography (2008), and co-editor of The One State Condition: Occupation and Democracy between the Sea and the River (2012). Azoulay is the curator of Act of State 1967-2007 (Centre Pompidou, 2016), Enough! The Natural Violence of the New World Order (F/Stop festival, Leipzig, 2016), The Natural History of Rape (Pembroke Hall, Brown University, 2015), Architecture of Destruction (Zochrot, Tel Aviv), and Everything Could Be Seen (Um El Fahem Gallery of Art). She has also directed documentary films, including Civil Alliances, Palestine, 47-48 (2012), I Also Dwell Among Your Own People: Conversations with Azmi Bishara (2004), The Food Chain (2004).

Her Dunning Trust lecture was based on her research on the 1955 exhibition The Family of Man, which she considered a first visual draft of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Her aim is not only to document the historic moment, in which the exhibition was created, but also to rethink the concept of universal rights. This involves turning the original exhibition into a first layer for a new declaration of universal rights, while fleshing out an archive that contains each photograph and information about its provenance. She sees the creation of such archive not only as the culmination of research, but as a launching point for further histories that would not otherwise be possible.