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Travelling theories of family photography and the material culture of human rights in Latin America

Andrea Noble



From the display by relatives of individual and individuated images, or the erection of vast photo walls composed of portraits of the disappeared, to the creation of objects such as 'photo-pendants', photographic images have wide currency in the political arena of human rights struggles. As a mode of photographic performance and endlessly repeated gesture staged precisely for the camera, such images have achieved iconic status. And yet, despite the charged, emotive freight of these photographs, there is a tendency to overlook them, to view them as the mere props for human actions, rather than integral to human rights activism and the struggles for justice, truth and memory. Focusing on the deployment of photography in struggles for human rights in Latin America, this article aims (i) to raise questions regarding the political and emotional agency of this mode of photographic display and (ii) to reflect upon the theoretical paradigms available for approaching such image-events.

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