Maria's Bag. Negotiating Identity and Belonging through Old and New Visual Media.

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 09:30
Location: Hörsaal 47 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Patricia PRIETO BLANCO, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
Maria has been living abroad for over ten years. She takes pride on her status as foreigner while trying her best to fit in. Her strategy includes keeping visual records of most of her interactions and distributing the snaps shortly afterwards in social networks. Up to here, her story is ordinary. However, Maria always carries a photography bag with her. It is a tote-bag in fact, which she changes every now and then. Inside, she keeps her camera along with 10x15cm half-disintegrated photo-albums, post-cards, flyers and all her sd-cards. In short, she carries most of her visual archive all the time, everywhere, with her. As her story exemplifies, propinquity is not restricted to the world of ones and zeros.

This paper unfolds Maria’s narrative under two main themes: belonging and mediation. An non-media-centric media studies approach (Moores, 2012) allows to accentuate the contextual conditions of media pragmatics, as well as the complex dynamics between media, institutions, technology and politics. A focus on processes of belonging sets the frame to inquire the deeds of networked photography (Gomez-Cruz, 2012; Lehmuskallio, 2012) and the relevance of place and time as variables in mediated interactions (Lapenta, 2011; Villi, 2014, 2016).

How do old and new media aid Maria in her self-presentation? How does Maria include/exclude others from her circle of reference? Why does Maria hold so tightly onto her sd-cards and paper copies of digital snaps? An ethnographic visual narrative approach (Bach, 2007; Connelly & Clandinin, 1990; Lapenta, 2006) and the subsequent visually crafted account intends to offer answers to these questions.