Memory, Selfhood and Soviality in the Age of Networked Pohotography
Personal and domestic photography has been one of the most successful consumption technologies in the contemporary media-saturated landscape. And personal images - produced, shared, consumed and archived through new digital imaging devices, platforms and networks - play an increasingly important role in media practices, as a central aspect of Internet communication. These personal photos in social media platforms can be approached as sites for human interaction and communication, for identity formation or as memory tools (Van Dijck, 2008). Considering the central role of the visual in our new media ecology and everyday life experience, my research was initially sketched by two questions: with the family album increasingly digital and networked, how are its production, perception and use as a memory object being reconfigured by media practices? And how are the practices and social meanings of personal and domestic photography changing in interaction with digital devices and networks? Departing from these initial questions, I intend to ethnographically explore snapshot photography as an everyday practice of remembrance, sociality and identity formation and performance, the relations generated with and through networked personal photography, also reflecting upon the blurring and negotiation of boundaries between private and public spheres. Building on digital, visual and material anthropology, and having as a theoretical framework the understanding of media as practice (Couldry, 2004; Brauchler & Postill, 2011), my PhD project focuses on uses and practices concerning personal everyday photography in online communication interaction and networking, approaching the visual and digital media as expressions of selfhood and memory as they intersect in everyday social life. Families and individuals from Portugal will form the empirical basis for the project, which will be carried out through a combination of offline and online ethnographic research methods.