Reframing war: histories and memories of the Second World War in the photography of Julia Pirotte

Hanna Diamond, Claire Gorrara

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This article examines the photographic narratives of the Second World War produced by Jewish Polish-Belgian e´migre´ photographer Julia Pirotte and their post-war trajectory. It begins by proposing a set of critical frames which ground the analysis of Pirotte’s press photographs of the Liberation of Marseille in 1944. It explores the narratives of liberation and resistance transmitted in these photographs and demonstrates how these photographs
were mobilised to build and promote a ‘national’ picture of French activism and unity at the war’s end. The article then proceeds to examine the ‘afterlives’ of Pirotte’s photographs and the ways in which they have been successively reframed to tell different war stories. In particular, this article connects Pirotte’s photographs and their reproduction to fraught
debates on the histories and legacies of the Resistance and argues that they have been used, on a number of occasions, to make visible the contribution of foreigners to the French Resistance. This is evidenced in the re-captioning of her photographs for various publication and exhibition projects since the 1990s. By interrogating how Pirotte’s photographic narratives of liberation and resistance have been re-presented for different post-war audiences, this article makes a case for photography as an influential cultural
medium which continues to shape the contours of French war memory today.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-471
Number of pages19
JournalModern and Contemporary France
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012


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