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Posthumous Interruptions: The Political Life of Family Photographs in Israeli Military Cemeteries

Pasternak, Gil (2010) Posthumous Interruptions: The Political Life of Family Photographs in Israeli Military Cemeteries. Photography and Culture, 3 (1). 41-63(23). ISSN 1751-4525

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Based on a survey of Israeli military and civil cemeteries that I conducted between July and September 2007, this article focuses on the increasingly common custom of mounting family photographs on tombstones of Israeli fallen soldiers—a phenomenon unique in Israel to military cemeteries in particular, although it is forbidden both by Jewish law as well as by the Israeli Law of Military Cemeteries legislated in 1950. I demonstrate how, from its first reported appearance in 1971, the application of this practice has been growing gradually to function as a form of political disapproval that enables a way of salvaging memories of the dead that go beyond the historical role and social identity with which they are imbued by the standard memorials erected over their graves by the Israeli Ministry of Defense. My main argument is that this practice subverts the most fundamental patterns of commemoration prevailing in contemporary occidental military cemeteries in formal-spatial, symbolic, and ideological terms. Analyzing particularly the formal and social positions Israeli soldiers occupy in professional and amateur family photographs mounted on military tombstones, this article offers a series of historical, theoretical, and social interpretations of this growing phenomenon, and opens up the question of the relationship between politics, death, commemoration, and the family photograph.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DE The Mediterranean Region. The Greco-Roman World
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GT Manners and customs
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
T Technology > TR Photography
Schools: School of Art, Design and Architecture
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Gil Pasternak
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2010 10:22
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 22:04


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