Dying to be seen : an interpretive study of porcelain portraits on grave markers
Brooks, Patrick J.
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SubjectSepulchral monuments; Portrait photography; Photographs on porcelain; Memorialization; Cultural fusion and the arts; Syncretism (Religion); Identity (Psychology); Interviews (Research methodology)
This article explores the roles that porcelain portraits on grave markers play in identity construction and performance. Through semi-structured interviews, the biographies of five individuals are examined and then compared to determine norms or differences regarding their views on sepulchral photographs as a form of memorialization. While the decision to display a gravestone portrait could simply be a long-standing cultural practice, this interpretivist study indicates that the role of photo-tombstones is negotiated through a hybridization process involving religious syncretism, cultural convergence, or familial expectations. The role of photography as material culture is also examined, both as a metonymic replacement for the deceased and for its links to memory recall and remembrance.