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Other People’s (Hi)stories: Bringing Public-Generated Photography into the Contemporary Museum

Galani, Areti and Moschovi, Alexandra (2015) Other People’s (Hi)stories: Bringing Public-Generated Photography into the Contemporary Museum. In: PHOTOGRAPHY, HISTORY, DIFFERENCE. Interfaces series . Dartmouth College Press, University Press of New England (UPNE), under review, Darmouth, New England. (Submitted)

Item Type: Book Section


Constituting the "defining other" of art photography, amateur photographic practices have long been neglected or specifically excluded from official histories of photography. Even the term "amateur" - often linguistically interchanged with the conceptually distinct terms "vernacular," "folk," "popular," and "mass" - has historically been characterized by semantic ambiguity, connoting both the joys of the pastime and a lack in professional skill. In recent years, however, contemporary amateur photographs have been capturing the curatorial imagination. On the one hand, this is motivated by the institutional and political impetus to engage with personal, local heritage, rather than official, national heritage alone. Amateur photographs, with their apparent rawness, immediacy and everydayness, may afford the museum with a more credible and authentic record of "real life" and enable the display of polyvocal narratives. On the other hand, the changing digital media landscape that has given rise to social media and networking has opened up opportunities for museums to diversify their activities and to reach new audiences through public-contributed content. In response to these developments, this essay asks: How has amateur photography acquired a protagonist role in contemporary museum displays? It will explore this question through contrasting case studies of exhibitions in the US and Europe, which have incorporated user-contributed photographic content in their displays. We thus discuss how everyday photographic creativity and the raw materials of other people's (hi)stories serve as a means to interact with institutionally constructed histories.

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Additional Information: This anthology brings together international and multidisciplinary scholars to reflect upon the interrelations among photography, history, and difference. The volume examines the ways that difference and otherness may be addressed in histories of photographies and, at the same time, how these histories may be differently reconceptualised. Through historical case studies and surveys of contemporary historiographical and curatorial practices, the eleven contributions also address issues around national and individual identity, race, class, gender, and politics and how these have affected and still affect the historiography of photography.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Digital culture, Web 2.0, social networking media, cultural heritage, museum narratives, cultures of display, participatory curatorial practices, public engagement, crowd sourcing, public-generated content, vernacular photography, prosumer.
Depositing User: Alexandra Moschovi


Item ID: 3746
Official URL:

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Alexandra Moschovi: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 09 May 2013 14:07
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2019 15:35


Author: Alexandra Moschovi ORCID iD
Author: Areti Galani
Author: Justin Carville
Author: Martha Langford
Author: Mirjam Brusius
Author: Andrés Mario Zervigón
Author: Sigrid Lien
Author: Karen Strassler
Author: Catherine De Lorenzo
Author: Mette Sandbye
Author: Gil Pasternak
Author: Harriet Riches

University Divisions

Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries
Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries > School of Art and Design


Photography > Digital Imaging
Media > Media and Cultural Studies
Photography > Photography

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