Spirits, Apparitions, and Traditions of Supernatural Photography

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Abstract:

For nearly 150 years, the photographic process has been attributed with the apparitional ability to reveal discarnate beings and miraculous phenomena. In the nineteenth century, members of the Spiritualist movement embraced photography as a technological medium that provided evidence of the afterlife and contact with departed loved ones. Today, traditions of supernatural photography continue to thrive, particularly among the Catholic faithful at Marian apparition sites who regularly use cameras to document miraculous phenomena. This article examines the meaning and appeal of beliefs about photography as a revelatory technology, the popular desire for visible proofs of invisible realms, and the ways that the photographic process allows believers to ritually engage the otherworldly, the sacred, and issues of ultimate concern.
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