PHOTOGRAPHY & CHILDHOOD MEMORY
© 2020-2023 Designed by P. KHOSRONEJAD
The Girschik siblings a few months after their release from Tatura war internment camp. Left to right: Helga Girschik (R36356), Herbet Girschik (R36355a), and Peter Girschik (R36357), Melbourne, 1947. Photograph: Rudolf Girschik (R36358). Girschik Collection. @ P. Khosronejad.
In our project, we are using the family photographs and albums of German civilian internees of Persia as material culture and mediums for encapsulating the memories of their children (the collaborators in this project), especially those of their childhood when they were in Iran. While in Iran they were aged between one month and six years old and, as previously mentioned, some of them also were born there. Besides our extensive talks and exchange of ideas, I have scanned all of their family photographs and provided high quality resolution images for them for use in our project. They study the albums as a whole and think and write about them, and then again go through each photograph one by one and create captions for them. This could be done as a written work after their own recorded voices, or they could just write them directly from their memories.
In this part of the analysis, while we are working on the childhood and family photographs from the 1930s when they were living outside Iran, and also those of the 1930s to 1941 when they were living in Iran, our interest is in discovering the roles of their family albums and photographs in the construction of their childhood memories (Bate 2010; Waites 2018), especially in the context of human disasters such as war (Sarkisova and Shevchenko 2010), forced displacement (Dellios 2016; Haebich 2008; Persian 2011), and becoming a refugee (Moeller 2002; Szörényi 2006; Wright 2002).
We wish to ascertain if an interdisciplinary study of childhood memories based on family photographs can help to put issues such as war traumas, forced separation and refugee, and re-settlement into anthropological perspectives (Doucet 2018). We are aware that much of the knowledge about our childhood is derived from other “things” (Brookshaw 2010; Huhn 2018; Pascoe 2013; Radley 1994). If growing up serves us in certain ways from our childhood, our project asks to what extent their family albums and photographs can take the “children” back to their childhood memories. How can family photographs, through cultural influences, provoke reconnection, reformulation, reevaluation, and understanding of childhood memories (Ross and Wang 2010)?
Magdalene Wulff and her children during the war in Düsseldorf in 1942, one year after their separation from Hans Wulff (R36838) in Iran. Wulff Collection. © P. Khosronejad.
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Brookshaw, S. (2010). “The Archaeology of Childhood: A Museum Perspective,” Complutum 21, no. 2, pp. 215–32.
Huhn, A. 2018. “Biographical Objects, Affective Kin Ties, and Memories of Childhood,” Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth Vol. 11, Issue 3, pp. 403-420.
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Haebich, A. (2008). Spinning the dream: Assimilation in Australia 1950–1970. Perth: Freemantle Press.
Persian, J. (2011). Displaced persons (1947-1952): Representations, memory and commemoration (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). The University of Sydney, Sydney.
Pascoe, C. (2013). “Putting Away the Things of Childhood: Museum Representations of Children’s Cultural Heritage,” In K. Darian-Smith and C. Pascoe (Eds.) Children, Childhood, and Cultural Heritage, (pp. 209–21). New York: Routledge.
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© 2020-2023 Designed by P. KHOSRONEJAD
Dr. Pedram Khosronejad | Adjunct Professor
Religion and Society Research Cluster | Western Sydney University
Fellow | Department of Anthropology | Harvard University