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EVENTS: FAMILY LINE-UPS. Call for Contributions


This is a Call for Contributions for an EXHIBITION to be organized in May 2013  by a group of academics in the American Studies Program at the University of Bucharest. An exhibition catalogue will also be published.[1]

The title of this project is FAMILY LINE-UPS. Trans-generational Encounters in Family Photography.  The exhibition is part of a wider research project currently examining the role of family photography in the process of the inter-generational transmission of memory, with a focus on the manner in which exile acted on the structure of the family and the coherence of its genealogy.

Your contributions to this exhibition should address one or several of the questions below:

-          How do we relate ourselves to a family history that we have inherited through family photographs and storytelling, but which we were for the most part unable to witness?

-          How does family photography work to relate us to an unlived family history in the case of various generations of immigrant families having lived through multiple layers of geographic dislocation and relocation to another cultural space (particularly the situation of transatlantic movement from (Eastern) Europe to the United States, as problematized, for example, by Nancy K. Miller)?

-          What role does ”genealogy” (usually read as ”blood ties” but also as ”resemblance”) play in the way we project ourselves visually and verbally?

-          In what way does photography, especially family photography, enable a dialogue with the dead or absent (cf. Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida)?

-          How do we negotiate the scarce narrative force of photography against the social imperative that we possess a coherent story about our past, our ancestors etc.?

-          How do we reconcile the fact that the conventions of family photography predicate that the family is a coherent, happy unit, but sometimes family narratives contradict this narrative?

YOUR SUBMISSION should be sent no later than July 15 to family_lineups@americanstudies.ro  and it should consist of the following:

1.  three scanned photographs  from your own family album (please make sure you set your scanner to 600dpi, so we can be sure we get to see them properly), as follows:

o        one photograph of yourself

o        (at least) one more of a family member who is absent or otherwise visually unavailable to yourself, but to whom you are connected through ”family resemblance”

o        one of another family member or of a family member who is (also) absent or otherwise visually unavailable to yourself. (please see sample below)

2. A scanned HANDWRITTEN (but legible) NOTE in English (no more than 400 words) on how you relate yourself to the absent family member, and what role the other person in the line-up plays in this dialogue you are having with the absent person


Nota Bene:

The juxtaposition of the photographs and the text you are submitting should address the QUESTIONS WE ASK about memory, family history, and photography. In other words, we have to reject random juxtapositions of family photographs.


Please see the SAMPLE CONTRIBUTION BELOW to get a better idea of what we are looking for. Also, please note that YOU DO NOT NEED TO EDIT THE IMAGES and the handwritten text togther as in the sample below; you can simply send them to us as separate attachments, and we can easily do the editing for you. Also, please note that, even though the contributor below decided to submit only passport-type photographs in the line-up below, that does not mean that we only accept passport-type images where the subject looks straight at the camera. As long as you are prepared to address the questions we ask, please feel free to send us photographs where the posture of the subjects is relevant for your story.


Here is the transcript of the handwritten text in the montage below:

”I discovered my great grandmother’s photograph all by myself and only recently.

The only stories I knew about her were related to our physical resemblance, as well as a few geographical and political details. Other than that, I never knew anything else about her life, and I never met her.

The only connection between us is offered by my father, with whom I share the same physical resemblance and not much else.

Although he is available to me, I rarely speak to him, and almost never about his personal life.


Still, a simple photograph of her still fascinates me, and I can imagine the life full of hardships she must have lived.

My great grandmother was forced to abandon her house and family because of an oppressive political regime and fled to the other side of the country. After managing to make a new home among strangers, she was once more forced to leave it, and for ten years after that she lived under house arrest in the middle of a virtual desert. She died far away from home and never saw her native land again.

Unlike her, I have been living my whole life not only in the same city, but also in the same apartment, always haunted by a desire to flee, to discover new places, as if I were looking for something that has always been missing.

Ever since I was little I tried to find out as much as possible about my ancestors, and so I spent many hours leafing through the family album and trying to imagine their (and my) past by looking at old photographs.

I am the last and only heiress of this face and this family name.


My father, somewhere in the middle.”


[1] This exhibition is organized by Dr. Dana Mihailescu, Dr. Roxana Oltean and Dr. Mihaela Precup as part of PN-II-RU-TE project no. 64 / 2011, Cross-Cultural Encounters in American Trauma Narratives: A Comparative Approach to Personal and Collective Memories.



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FAMILY LINE-UPS. Call For Contributions
Partenerii nostri: US Embassy | Fulbright Commission in Romania | English Department, Faculty of Foreign Languages,