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Durham e-Theses
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Soviet Snapshooters: Amateur Photography and Self-Fashioning in Interwar Russia

MIEJLUK, ANTONIA,NANCY (2022) Soviet Snapshooters: Amateur Photography and Self-Fashioning in Interwar Russia. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 01 August 2026.


This thesis examines the practice of leisure-time snapshot photography in 1930s Soviet Russia. It explores how photography and leisure constituted interlinked processes of self-fashioning. For some citizens, the snapshot camera was a very important tool with which to mediate, represent, and make sense of their experience of life in Stalin-era Russia. Their photographs therefore make visible how ordinary citizens lived through a period of rapid and extensive societal transformation at a time of sweeping state censorship. This study is the first to use snapshot photographs as a source for the examination of the experience of Soviet life in the interwar years. Contributing to a body of literature before now largely focused on the verbal, the findings of this thesis nuance and deepen our understanding of how citizens encountered Stalin-era society. By approaching the snapshot photograph album as a mode of self-representation through which people communicate information about themselves and attribute value to particular spaces, objects, practices, interactions, and relationships, the analysis highlights the rich complexity of processes of self-fashioning in interwar Soviet Russia. This thesis shows how snapshot photographers and their subjects engaged with representational and bodily practices championed by the regime as well as pre-revolutionary customs and forms of behaviour criticised by Soviet organs. Significantly, the thesis demonstrates the active role that citizens performed in the shaping of Soviet culture through their participation. By engaging with a diverse range of models of identity, citizens reimagined certain ideas and practices, at once constructing their own identities and remaking the Soviet world they inhabited.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:self-fashioning; amateur photography; Soviet Russia; interwar; history of photography; experience; identity; visual culture; snapshot
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > History, Department of
Thesis Date:2022
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:01 Aug 2023 13:58

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