The construction of countries: the collections of phototextual "Portraits de pays" (1950-1980)
This project aims to study books illustrated by photography, involving writers, and devoted to the depiction of countries and cities. The research will focus on the 8 most important collections published between 1950 and 1980 in the French speaking world: “Escales du monde” (Les documents d’art), “Albums des guides bleus” (Hachette), “Que j’aime” (Sun), “Petite planète” (Le Seuil), "Le monde en images (Arthaud) and Switzerland by La Guilde du livre, “L’Atlas des voyages” (Rencontre) & “Espaces” (La Baconnière).
The goal is to better understand how this editorial production relates to the expansion of mass tourism in Western Europe. We will therefore study the new iconic-textual genre of the portrait of countries by focussing on three main issues: the history of the collections, a description of the genre, an understanding of the way it deals with questions of identity and and an analysis of heritage identifications and appropriations within these productions. In terms of methodology, the research will combine literary and visual studies, history of photography, discourse analysis, history of books and heritage studies.
The originality of the project lies in its focus on a genre which remains to be explored. The research questions and the methods are at the cross-roads of the involved disciplines. It will provide a better understanding of an editorial genre which contributed to the construction of identities during an important period for the development of mass tourism.