The making of a community: The making of a photo collection in a rural community in Italy

  • Michele F. Fontefrancesco University of Gastronomic Sciences Durham University
photos, narration, evocation, community, photo collection, exhibition, Italy


Photos are by their very nature evocative objects (Turkle 2007). This paper investigates the ability of a photo's capacity to trigger narratives about the self and the past. It argues that the collection of historic, private photos and the creation of a public photographic archive build a sense of community. The paper is the result of an ethnographic work conducted in Lu (AL) between 2010 and 2012. In this village, the local museum curetted a public collection of private and public photos dating from the late decades of the 19th century to the 1960s, in order to create a freely accessible internet archive. In a few months, in a village of about 1000 people, over 1000 photos were donated. On the basis of the collected photos, the museum organized periodical exhibitions that attracted many hundreds of visitors. The research investigates the entire process of photo collection, collective organization of a new photographic archive, its use for the organization of photo exhibitions, and the participation in these initiatives by local and foreign visitors. Focusing on exhibitions as an arena of social interaction in particular, the paper investigates how the evocativeness of a community's past can create a sense of belonging in the community, and that the very sense of community is negotiated and re-shaped.


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How to Cite
Fontefrancesco, Michele. 2014. “The Making of a Community: The Making of a Photo Collection in a Rural Community in Italy”. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 9 (4), 915-24.