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Kinship and family in Communist Albania: Photography as a source, a tool and an object of research

Abstract : My interest in family relations in Albania started in the mid-1990s when I was doing fieldwork in a small border region inhabited by Muslims and Orthodox Christians. My aim was then to understand how kinship patterns (marriages, genealogical recollections) reflected and simultaneously contributed in the shaping of Muslim-Christian relations. Ten years later, I came back to the same region and topic through another methodological approach: I became interested in photography and in the role it played in the representation of society in Communist Albania. The forms and functions of family photography within this specific context, but also the way official photography pictured family as an institution, were among the main research questions. In this presentation, I propose to reflect on the use of photography in the anthropological study of kinship and family through the case study of Communist Albania. This was a time when family relations underwent crucial transformations (through modernisation as well as through specific policies related to family as an institution) and a time when photography was widely use for political purposes, and made accessible to everyone all over the country. What can we learn from photographs from that period that can still be looked at today? How do photographs – and the search for them – change the way we conduct fieldwork on family relations? And, finally, what can we learn on kinship and family by analysing the relations between people and photographs? While family photography has been an object of study for several decades in Euro-American contexts, only recently did anthropologists become interested in the production and uses of family photographs in other contexts. My research is thus an attempt towards a de-centring of the study of family photography, aiming at analysing family photographs in contexts where both family and photography have a different history. It also considers photography beyond images themselves and looks at photographs as objects embedded in practices, in what can be labelled “ethnography of photography”.
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Conference papers
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Contributor : Gilles de Rapper <>
Submitted on : Monday, February 27, 2017 - 2:13:36 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 2:24:56 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-01477481, version 1



Gilles de Rapper. Kinship and family in Communist Albania: Photography as a source, a tool and an object of research. ISLAM IN THE BALKANS RESEARCH PERSPECTIVES 30 YEARS AFTER L’ISLAM BALKANIQUE, Dec 2016, Paris, France. ⟨halshs-01477481⟩



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