That Which Bruises Me: The Affective Power of Wallet Photos and the Construction of Personal and Social Identity
AuthorSantistevan, Dorothe Karin
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe history of photography began with that type now called vernacular, the photographs that represent the non-artistic, the banal and commonplace. Many of these are portraits, kept in lockets, cases, wallets, and now today on phones to keep our beloved nearby. Because of the close connection between the content and the emotional attachments of the owner, vernacular portraits have a profoundly affective status, both for people who know/knew the subject and those who do/did not. These affective miniature photographs are the subject of this thesis, which considers the connection between such objects and the creation of identity as they coincide in the collection and display of wallet photos. Story telling is an important aspect of this process, both for the owner and the exterior viewer; what stories are told inform the perceived identity of the owner—both to the self and the listener—allowing for the construction of a vision of “normal” domesticity. Utilizing a combination of wallet-sized photos from the author’s childhood, those of friends, as well as historic examples, this thesis examine the ways that keeping affective miniature photographic objects impacts identity, as well as the possibility that they entrench the user in a constructed narrative of a life that does not necessarily reflect reality. Wallet photos can showcase anyone or anything, so there are seemingly endless ways identity can be constructed through their keeping; this thesis focuses on those whose subjects contain (primarily) family and (secondarily) friends. The connections made in life are reflected in such photographs, indicating the values held by their keeper both to maintain their personal perception of their identity as well as project and perform social identity for an exterior viewer.
Degree ProgramGraduate College