Personal loss, memory and family: an exploration of family photographs and objects after a bereavement

Masters Thesis

Price, N. 2019. Personal loss, memory and family: an exploration of family photographs and objects after a bereavement. Masters Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University School of Creative Arts and Industries
AuthorsPrice, N.
TypeMasters Thesis
Qualification nameMasters by Research

This research project explores photographs and domestic objects with 12 adult participants, including myself as participant-researcher, after the death of a member of the family. Using ethnographic and autoethnographic approaches, alongside methods such as recordings and documentary photographs, supported the exploration of this sensitive subject. Adults were interviewed at their homes in Kent, discussing memories and reflections on the deceased as well as themselves through self-selected photographs and objects.

Core themes emerged including; women continuing to act as curator of the family image and archive after a death, a willingness by participants to discuss and reflect on the subject of death, often seen as a taboo. It highlighted that in family fractures and estrangement and then a death, participants retained items from the family member to which they had been estranged. A key finding of the research was the beneficial nature in holding space and using photographs and objects in which to remember the deceased, as tools to support reflections on self-identity after an emotionally challenging life event as a death, and through using creative methods such as writing and photography.

The research is explored and illustrated through text and photographs contained in the thesis and a wider selection of the documentary photographs in the accompanying photobook. A
selection of documentary photographs were exhibited as part of Medway Open Studios 2018 and 2019, as well as Fusion19 at the Daphne Oram building Canterbury Christ Church University which can be seen in the appendices and facilitated ongoing conversations around the subject of death in non-traditional spaces.

KeywordsDeath; Bereavement; Estrangement; Family; Photography; Autoethnography
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Publication process dates
Deposited05 Oct 2020
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