Mothers and the Phenomenology of the Memorable Photograph

Jonathan Yahalom


This article explores the phenomenology of mothers as they return to memorable photographs.[i]It reviews research on three mothers who articulate the lived experience of photographs, and how such experience might reveal basic ontological aspects of motherhood.  The phenomenology of a mother’s memorable photographs discloses an aporia of human relationships that involves the connectedness she has with her children, and the awareness that her children have become separate individuals. These two themes – separateness and coexistence – are indissolubly at odds. Each constitutes a mother’s potential lived experience of photographs as viewed in front of her. A concluding discussion reviews how each of these contradictory themes provides the necessary context for the other to arise, mutually presupposing the other.

[i] The Duquesne University IRB approved the research conducted in this article (Protocol #11-27). The author would like to thank Eva Simms, Patrick Howard, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful feedback while preparing this article. This article is indebted to the three mothers who participated in this research.

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ISSN: 1913-4711