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Photographs of the religious underground: Tracing images between archives and communities
In this chapter, which is based on an in-depth analysis of a single secret police file, I approach the question of how to deal with police photography in the study of religious culture? Are photographs that were intended to capture reality from a certain ideological perspective capable of opening up new layers of the past? I examine whether it is possible to gain new insights about religious culture during the years of dictatorship with the help of the images and artefacts enclosed within the secret police archives. Are the photographs we find there more reliable than texts? Through a case study of a clandestine religious community, I explain the context and production of photographic images situated in a single secret police file and discuss how these images are presented and situated in the file. More importantly, I liberate or ‘repatriate’ photographs from the archive and, through the process of photo-elicitation with community members, allow alternative narratives to emerge.
This research is part of the project Creative Agency and Religious Minorities: Hidden Galleries in the Secret Police Archives in Central and Eastern Europe. The project has received funding from the European Research 2020 research and innovation programme No. 677355.
Secret police , Communism , Eastern Europe , Religion , Archives , Visual archives
Povedák, K. (2021) 'Photographs of the religious underground: Tracing images between archives and communities', in Kapaló, J. A. and Povedák, K. (eds)., The Secret Police and the Religious Underground in Communist and Post-Communist Eastern Europe, Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9780429331466
This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in The Secret Police and the Religious Underground in Communist and Post-Communist Eastern Europe on 13 August 2021, available online: http://www.routledge.com/9780367279998