Eventos Académicos, 39 ISCHE. Educación y emancipación

Tamaño de fuente: 
Touching and Mingling as Seen in an Amateur Album on Children’s Games (Argentina, 1902)
Inés Dussel

Última modificación: 2017-07-17


This paper is based on an analysis of a corpus of photos that were produced by the Society of Amateur Argentinean Photographers (SFAA), active between 1889-1925 (see Priamo, 1997; Mirás, 2001, Cuarterolo, 2012; Pestorini, 2015; on amateur photography at that time, Edwards, 2012). Among the over 4,700 pictures that are available at the Special Collection of the SFAA at the National Archives in Argentina, there is an album on ‘Children’s games’ that portrays several scenes in which children play and move around different locations. Its 77 photos were catalogued at an unknown date; around 45 have titles (not consistent throughout the set) and 22 are dated (from March to September 1902). In these pictures, the scenes of play (some clearly staged, others less so as they involved large numbers of children in outdoor spaces) depict different kinds of games in which children’s bodies can be seen in interaction. I am interested in how these images convey different kinds of movements and interactions between children’s bodies, and the dispositions organized by the photographers’ gaze. In 54 of the 77 photos of the album, bodies touch each other: children hold hands, touch heads or torsos, recline on someone else’s shoulder, wrestle with or embrace other bodies. The most common games that the pictures show have a high physical content that do not involve playthings (Marsh & Bishop, 2014); the presence of toys and commodified objects is scarce. The album shows a great diversity of bodies at play: 35 depict boys-only groups, 28 girls-only; socially, many of them seem to gather socially mixed children, with boys in ragged clothes but others in expensive attire; ages are mixed in the majority, with a range from 4 to young adults. Interestingly, 8 of these photos portray Black children (including one black young girl in one picture, standing in the back of a schoolyard), not typical of official photos of that time. The analysis of this corpus of pictures will follow the lead of contemporary visual studies (Mirzoeff, 2015), looking not for the representation of a static or stable referent but for the ways in which these amateur photographs have participated in the production of particular visibilities, in this case of children’s bodies touching and mingling with each other. What was it possible to show at that time? Which bodies touched each other, and how? How did they connect in different spaces, and through which objects and activities? These are the questions that I will pursue in this paper.