The Stranger, the Tears, the Photograph, the Touch
Divine Presence in Spain and Europe since 1500
William A. Christian Jr., Anthropologist and historian
This book is an expanded, larger-format, and more highly illustrated version of a smaller book released by CEU Press in 2011. It presents and comments on an extensive set of religious and personal photographs and illustrations that depict people along with divine beings or absent loved ones.
First, Christian examines the periodic appearances of Christ-like strangers in the Spanish countryside through the vision of a woman in La Mancha in 1931.
Then he considers the long history of images with liquids on them not only for early modern Spain, but also in the United States, Italy and France in the 1940s and 1950s.
The third and most extensive chapter addresses the iconography of illustrated depictions of divine and spirit beings in conjunction with humans and how its conventions were incorporated into commercial postcards and personal photographs, culminating in photo montages of families and their absent soldiers in World War I.
The fourth theme is new to this edition. It compares the electric moments in Spanish communities when people ritually come into physical contact with saints and with animals, or transform themselves into saints or animals for ritual purposes. Over 50 of the color photographs by Spain's preeminent documentary photographer, Cristina García Rodero, are included.
310 pages, paperback, with 344 illustrations, 2017
$55.00 / €52.00 / £44.00
Visible Absence - an exhibition connected to the book.
Chapter 1. Toribia del Val and the Mysterious Wayfarer of Casas de Benítez
Chapter 2. Images as Beings: Blood, Sweat, and Tears
Chapter 3. Presence, Absence and the Supernatural in Postcard and Family Photographs, Europe 1895-1920 Visions depicted / Connecting with the Absent and the Supernaturals / Supernaturals and the Absent in World War I postcards / Absence in family photographs around World War
Chapter 4. Juxtapositions: Saints, Humans, Animals in Spanish Fiestas; with photographs by Cristina García Rodero People touching Saints / People touching Animals / Crossing the Boundaries: Images as People / People as Images / Animals as Humans / Humans as Animals / Images and Animals / Reflections
"The anthropologist William A. Christian Jr has amassed an extraordinary
collection of photographs collaged on postcards to circulate and prolong
memories of the absent, the missing and the dead. His recent study, The Stranger, the Tears, the Photograph, the Touch: Divine Presence in Spain and Europe since 1500, supports Laqueur’s accounts of the many ways new institutions, like the postal service, and new technologies, like photography, have been recruited to deal with death. The dead can clamour more urgently for our attention today than they did because of contemporary advances, not in spite of them." - London Review of Boooks