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    Photography, memory, belonging: a study of transcultural identity mediated through studio photography

    Molloy, Caroline (2021) Photography, memory, belonging: a study of transcultural identity mediated through studio photography. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    This thesis examines contemporary high-street studio photography in North-London which is my geographic locale. The research seeks to find new possibilities of thinking through the construction of localised transcultural identities through the examination of contemporary studio photography. All the studios studied are owned by first- and second- generation ‘Turkish’ migrants. I am interested in how cultural traditions are visualised, localised and formulated through studio photography. I employ multi-disciplinary inductive research methods, such as participant observation, semi-structured interviews, photo elicitation, photographic ethnographies and making photographs to find new ways of examining photographic studio practices. In order to contextualise the empirical research, I draw from Western art and photographic histories of representational portraiture within a socio-cultural context. I introduce a post-colonial critique of Orientalism as a visual framework, through which I look at the continuities between early Ottoman-Turkish photography and my contemporary case study. Using visual practice as research, I weave my own responses through the written text, in four chapters that also work as stand-alone visual works: ‘The Lure of the Local’, ‘The Book of Backgrounds’, ‘The Sampler’, ‘The Unnamed Sitter’, ‘The Emotional life of Transcultural Photographs’. With the potential to also be realised as material objects such as photobooks or digital displays, these respond to the theoretical research and examined photographs. These multi-disciplinary methods in their straddling of boundaries between textual and visual research, and textual and visual ‘arguments’, proved crucial to enabling a close analysis of my case studies, and were key to forming the aesthetic and material investigations of the research. This is a timely thesis that catalogues and captures the quintessence of the photography studios in North-London at a time when their presence on the high street is rapidly changing. The thesis concludes by moving the research into the family home in order to examine the mnemonic value of family photographs. In doing this, I investigate the critical relationship between photography, memory and migration. Thereby, I ask questions about the politics of representation and the right to be seen.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2021 17:08
    Last Modified: 25 Nov 2021 17:13


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