Politics, Civil Society and Participation: Media and Communications in a Transforming Environment

Title chapter: Photography and the construction of family and memory
Author: Sahika Erkonan
Keywords: photography; family memory; family images; ethnography
Abstract: Photography, since its invention, has played an important role in aiding the construction of family image and family memory while also evoking a certain sense of belonging for the members towards their families. The aim of this chapter is to understand with the aid of ethnographic techniques the constitutive role of photography within family life. Using these techniques, involving in-depth interviewing, participant observation and informal conversations, during the very act of looking at photographs, researchers have a chance to examine how family images and memories are hitherto constructed. Researchers can also look into aspects of photography-induced memory recall through photography. Within this framework, I conducted the fieldwork with five families living in Ankara, Turkey. They were selected as examples of middle and low socioeconomic class families: this enables the researchers to compare different dynamics possibly deriving from social class variations in the family image and memory construction processes. The case study in this research includes the issues of producing photographs, displaying photographs, (re)ordering photographs, using photographs and reshaping or destroying photographs related to families. The analysis shows that photography plays a significant role in family life, and provides a visual way of influencing family image as well as its memory along with the cultural aspects of social class, which co-determine the practices of photography and the way the construction process might commence.
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