Touching heritage: Embodied politics in children’s photography

Varvantakis, Christos and Nolas, Sevasti-Melissa. 2024. Touching heritage: Embodied politics in children’s photography. Visual Communication, 23(1), pp. 119-141. ISSN 1470-3572 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Drawing on ethnographic research with children in Athens, the authors examine sensual, performative and embodied aspects of children’s photographic representations of a monument that is central in the Greek national, cultural and historical discourse, the Acropolis. Moving away from the hermeneutics of cultural domination, the focus of this article is on how the pictures depicted the monument and how they were used by the children. Assuming an analytical framework which incorporates aspects of sensual experience in the analysis of the photography, the authors discuss how the children’s pictures of the Acropolis not only make visual records of the monument, and thus are not simply visual evidence of the centrality of the mainstream Greek national and historical discourse, but also how they entail the children’s embodied relation to it, and what this relation might tell us about childhood expressions of heritage and belonging, and by extension about politics in childhood. The analytical focus on embodied aspects of children’s photography illuminates complexities of cultural representation and their gestural, discursive and political significance.

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The Connectors Study was funded by the European Research Council Starting Grant, ERC-StG-335514, to Sevasti-Melissa Nolas.

An initial version of the analysis that appears in this article was presented in the Photographic Encounters conference in Kithira in 2016 and included in the conference proceedings in Greek, see Varvantakis, C (2021) Η Ακρόπολη από μακριά: Απόσταση, εγγύτητα και αφή (Acropolis from a distance: Distance, proximity and touch) In: Petsini, P, Stathatos, Y (eds) Φωτογραφία και συλλογικές ταυτότητες: Ελληνικές φωτογραφικές μελέτες Ι (Photography and collective identities: Greek photographic studies I). Athens: Koukkida, 159–178.


children, cultural politics, Greece, heritage, multimodal ethnography, photography, public space, the senses

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23 May 2021Accepted
9 October 2021Published Online
February 2024Published

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11 Oct 2021 15:04

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26 Apr 2024 15:54

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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