[Articles] Visual Case Study in the History of Russian Child Welfare

Visual research as an attempt to represent physical environment, events or ideas is a rather new approach to the history of social problems in Russia. In this research, we aimed to study the historical, cultural, ideological context of public policy in the sphere of social aid for children deprived of parental care, by employing the analysis of visual representations which have been preserved in the archives of children’s homes, in private collections, in state archives and libraries. In our project, the images of children, orphanages and carers are to be seen not just as illustrations or representations but also as important elements of a studied context – no less important than official documents or personal narratives. This is micro-level analysis, which makes it possible to understand how the representations reflect and construct specific forms of arrangement of space in orphanages, disciplinary practices, ideological intentions of the photographers and organizers of such imaginative work. The photos, which represent various activities of the orphans in the institutions, are intended to be read in our study as messages based on the principles and values of Soviet upbringing and presented in chronicles and children’s cinematography.

Author(s): Elena larskaia-Smirnova, Pavel Romanov

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