Home    Number 6, 2023

Photo Albums: Deconstructing Narratives of the Self, Migration, and Movable Memories

[Fotoal’bomy: dekonstruiruia narrativy o sebe, migratsii i mobil’noi pamiati]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869541523060027


Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 14.08.2023

Accepted: 07.09.2023

About author(s)

Sholeh Shahrokhi | http://orcid.org/0009-0002-5791-4009 | sshahrok@butler.edu | Butler University (4600 Sunset Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46208, USA)


migration art-activism, movable memories, alternative photo albums, personhood


Photo albums, as personal and cultural material objects, are intertwined with ideas about identity and memory. At the same time, the importance of memory in how we shape and make sense of our place in the world that is enhanced through evocative objects such as personal photographic archives (ranging from traditional family albums, to selfies on mobile phones, and beyond) becomes more pronounced in the context of the Anthropocene era in which diverse and unequal global movability (e.g., displacement, border crossing, and migration) has become a defining feature of who we are. Connecting between anthropological studies of border-crossing and migration art, this project explores how in the absence of a photo album, alternative modes of visual archives tell the migrant stories of affective connections to family homeland the past and the present Focusing on specific examples from the burgeoning body of alternative visual artwork by contemporary migration artists in Europe and the US this paper examines how identity and otherness are entangled in an ongoing process of becoming and unraveling as sociocultural norms. Beginning with Appadurai’s observations on how migration of objects precipitates the experience of border crossing this paper looks at how migration art activism empowers modes of resistance to normative exclusionary discourses and current anti-migration practices.

Funding Information

Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation [grant number 075-15-2022-328]


Shahrokhi, S. 2023. Fotoal’bomy: dekonstruiruia narrativy o sebe, migratsii i mobil’noi pamiati [Photo Albums: Deconstructing Narratives of the Self, Migration, and Movable Memories]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 6: 12–25. https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869541523060027 EDN: MPTBLF

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