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Between 1914 and 1918, military, press and amateur photographers produced thousands of pictures. Either classified in military archives, collected in personal albums or circulated in illustrated magazines, photographs were supposed to tell the story of the war. In her book Picturing the Western Front, Dr Beatriz Pichel argues that photographic practices also shaped combatants and civilians’ war experiences. Doing photography (taking pictures, posing for them, exhibiting, cataloguing and looking at them) allowed combatants and civilians to make sense of what they were living through. Photography mattered because it enabled combatants and civilians to record events, establish or reinforce bonds with one another, represent bodies, place people and events in imaginative geographies and making things visible, while making others, such as suicide, invisible. Photographic practices became, thus, frames of experience.
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Dr Beatriz Pichel is Associate Professor at the Photographic History Research Centre at De Montfort University. She is specialist in photographic history, history of medicine and medical humanities, history of emotions and the cultural history of war. After finishing her PhD in Spain, she moved to Leicester in 2014 as a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow. Her postdoctoral project focused on photography and emotions in psychology and theatre at the turn of the nineteenth century in France. She has published on this topic in History of the Human Sciences (2015), Fotogeschichte (2016) and Media History (2018), and the collective volume on Emotional Bodies. The Historical Performativity of Emotions, co-edited with Dr Dolores Martin-Moruno and published with University of Illinois Press in 2019. Her first monograph, Picturing the Western Front. Photography, Practices and Experiences in First World War France (Manchester University Press, 2021) examines how photographic practices articulated war experiences. Beatriz is working on a new project, Photography and the Making of the Medical Sciences in France, 1860-1914, funded by a British Academy Small Research Grant.