Domestic photography and memories of loss in northern Yemen

By Gabriele Vom Bruck
Submitted to Session P5057 (The Birth of Modern Yemen: Internal Views of the 1960s Civil War, 2018 Annual Meeting
Cultural Studies;
LCD Projector without Audio;
Domestic photography and memories of loss in northern Yemen
This article intends to deal with domestic photography and the memory of loss in northern Yemen. It considers what memories are triggered either by photos of loved ones who have disappeared during the 1960s civil war or by (re-)imagined albums which were stolen or destroyed. Photographs in the domestic realm are potent symbols of the present absence of those who were killed during the revolution or the ensuing civil war. The onlooker’s gaze enables emotions to be interpreted and experienced in retrospect, an aspect which seems especially relevant to intergenerational memory. The article intends to look at the dialectic of presence and absence in the imagination of dead persons and the circumstances of their death. How do second-generation Yemenis interpret and negotiate the knowledge that has been transmitted to them via those who suffered violent bereavement and have only their photographs left? In as far as photographs have “communicative power” (E. Edwards), they often inspire the telling of (hi)stories, thus allowing analysis of how people engage with and experience history.