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'Everyone's cuddled up and it just looks really nice': an emotional geography of some mums and their family photos

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This paper is based on a small-scale, qualitative research project, which used in-depth, semi-structured interviews to explore what a particular group of middle-class, white mothers with young children were doing with their family photographs. It was evident from the interviews that this group of women felt ambivalent about their photos. On the one hand, photos were seen as precious objects which evoked intense emotional reaction; on the other, they were seen as banal and trivial. The paper explores this emotional paradox, and suggests that it is part of the spatial proximity so central to these family snaps, which the mothers described as 'togetherness'. This togetherness was also enacted, corporeally, in a number of ways in relation to the photos. The paper therefore also argues, more generally, that studies of visual imagery need to pay more careful attention to how particular images are engaged with in specific, diverse and multi-sensory ways when they are 'seen'.

Keywords: family; mothering; photographs; togetherness; visuality

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Geography The Open University Milton Keynes UK

Publication date: 2004-12-01

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