Memorialising Impulses: Photography, Heritage and a Record of Europe

Start: Oct 03, 2012 05:00 PM

Location: Room 412, Institute of Archaeology

Memorialising Impulses: Photography, Heritage and a Record of Europe

The Institute's Heritage Studies Section and Centre for Museums, Heritage and Material Culture Studies are convening a series of seminars on 'New Approaches to the Past: Methodological Innovations in Heritage Research', the first of which takes place on 3 October.

Elizabeth Edwards, Research Professor in Photographic History and Director of the Photographic History Research Centre at De Montfort University, will give the opening seminar on 'Memorialising Impulses: Photography, Heritage and a Record of Europe' and all are welcome.


This paper presents new work that emerges from my recent ethnography of late nineteenth and early twentieth photographic survey movement. In this exercise in historical anthropology, I shall consider this popular movement in its European dimension. While specific survey projects were concerned with the articulation of locality and in many cases the definition of 'national heritage', this paper will depart from the conventional analysis and argue that there is a strong transnational nature which emerged from a shared response to the dynamic interrelationship of past, present and future on the one hand, and on the other in the efficacy of photography to heritage archives for the future.

Survey projects were undertaken in many European countries and were often linked to the politics of heritage. There are movements in, for instance UK, Scandinavia, Poland, Italy and Germany. I shall argue that the use of the camera in this way espoused a specific form of documenting impulse that constitutes a transnational impulse at the intersection of shared patterns of historical imagination, photographic desire, and archival enthusiasm in a shared sense of modernity. The study has been shaped by methodologies from material culture studies and anthropological studies of photographic practices and their networks.

Any enquiries about the seminar series may be directed to organisers Colin Sterling and Eleni Vomvyla.