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Department of Information Science and Media Studies

Pauline Ann Hoath

In her project "When Domestic Space Meets Imperial Space" Pauline Ann Hoath will be exploring interacting histories of photography, culture and politics. Despite challenges made in the 1970s, particularly within French history writing, to include different kinds of sources when writing histories, little has changed since then.

This study will therefore address questions concerning the possibilities and limitations of creating histories from photographs as primary source material, as opposed to their use as illustrations to pre-formed theories.
The research has as its point of departure a small, private archive of photograph albums, loose photographs and a catalogue of negatives. The photographs and albums are those of a young British soldier who was stationed in India, Iraq, Palestine and Egypt in the years 1922-26. In addition to the photographic material there are also some 250 letters written by the soldier to the same addressee. By drawing on theories and methodologies from Visual Studies, History and Visual Anthropology, an alternative or supplementary history will be made to national and political histories on the above mentioned regions, by giving voice to an actor who at the time was not part of a public discourse on the situation of which he was a part. As well as examining the content of the photographs, which cover a broad range of subject matter, the project will notably focus on both the event of photography, and the material aspects and performances of the photographs and albums. What can they tell us about the historical desires of the amateur soldier-photographer? How does photography act in history and what (hi)stories can photographs and albums tell? What is the evidential value and meaning of private amateur photographs for collective histories and memory, and how are they produced? In short, the project will research the conditions and possibilities for telling histories about specific times and places, grounded in the act of photography, photographs, and the presentation of photographs in albums.