Representing defeat: Photographic images of the French exodus of 1940

Hanna Diamond

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This exploratory article analyses a number of photographs concerning events of the first two years of the Second World War in France. It focuses on two key groups of pictures: the first presents the official and strategic narratives that were produced by the military; the second presents those taken by freelance photographers who were less subject to restrictions. Among the images in the latter group, a recurrent visual vocabulary has emerged that posits fleeing refugees in a particular way. However, a close analysis of the work of the American photographer Therese Bonney suggests very different kinds of visual narratives from those that are commonly taken to represent this experience, and also implies the existence of a possibly gendered narrative. This exploration therefore suggests that further research into the work of other photographers has the potential to uncover numerous visual narratives that nuance and complicate the existing dominant visual narratives of these events.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-292
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of War and Culture Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008


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