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Child Photography in Morocco: Photographic Construction of Gendered Identities and Marriage Ideology

Souad Azizi

Research Framework: This study has been realized in the context of intensification in the use of studio photography by Moroccan families during the main stages of their children’s growth, as well as during religious feasts.

Objectives: The aim is to understand the social and ritual functions of child photography.

Methodology: The data has been collected through two methods of investigation. The first part was conducted in two stages and realized with the help of sociology students. We first observed 50 studios in the Grand Casablanca and then did an observation of family albums. The second method was conducted by the author from 2010 to 2015 as a visual observation of the video photographic ritual in a public space of Mohammedia.

Results: Child photography is a social construct of some parts of the child’s image, which results from a community of thought and action between photographers and families. The album is a gendered practice and can be understood as a proof of the child’s good treatment as well as a symbolic and transmittable asset. Child photography is a way of passing on the traditional dress and it reflects the impregnation of family photography by the Makhzen culture and the marriage symbolism.

Conclusions: The video photographic ritual is a means in the construction of gendered identities and the inculcation of marriage ideology at an early age. Child photography reveals that marriage remains a highly valued institution and that children are prepared from a very early age to project themselves in their roles as husband and wife. The nuptial dress ritual in child photography is a way of transmitting the national identity and the royal symbols and values.

Contribution: This study offers a research contribution in family photography by drawing attention on the heuristic interest of child photography as a key to understanding the social logics at work beneath the family visual practices.