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The transformation of photography, memory and the domestic interior: an ethnographic study of the representational, memorial and ancestral practices of South London householders

Parrott, F.R.; (2009) The transformation of photography, memory and the domestic interior: an ethnographic study of the representational, memorial and ancestral practices of South London householders. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis describes the interdependence of visual and material cultures in the home and seeks to understand of the place of structures of mass consumption and mass visual communication in the making of personhood. It brings together the study of the photograph with that of the memento and the collection. Through an eighteen-month ethnography of eighty households in South London, material culture categories and consumer genres are dissolved in favour of exploring the precise relationships between images and objects in the representational, memorial and ancestral practices that establish kinship and friendship, and shape experiences of migration and belonging, death and memory. Cross-cultural comparison sheds light on the themes of inalienability, memory, materiality, reproduction and ancestralisation. In particular, works on photography in non-Western settings have established its ‘other histories’, embedding photography in everyday social and ritual lives. Turning to the Euro-American cultural region, this thesis abandons the search to define the essence of ‘the photograph’, offering instead a guide to the range of practices in which specific types of photographic images and mementos establish the sociality, time and memory of households in Britain. The thesis transforms the photograph as an object of analysis, shifting the gaze from the image-in-itself to its place among the sensuous materials and values of the interior. Secondly, it explores the consequences of the labour that householders invest in the material transformation of memory and experience. This is summarised in the three parts of the thesis as the work of display, collection and dispersal. This perspective develops the theorisation of the mutual implication of images, objects and persons in establishing different forms of knowledge and community, illuminates relations between domestic, museum and consumer landscapes, and allows for the productive convergence of new and established anthropological literatures.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:The transformation of photography, memory and the domestic interior: an ethnographic study of the representational, memorial and ancestral practices of South London householders
Language:English
Additional information:Authorisation for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Anthropology

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