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Speaker: Marion Macalpine (London)

When there is a silence in a family about its history, the urge to know can become intense. Marion’s mother, Nolly, was born near Vienna in 1916. In 1936 Nolly went to England to learn the language and lived there for the rest of her life. She never called herself Jewish, and never spoke about her mother Mimi, her father Edmund, or her brothers Hans and Otto. So Marion knew almost nothing about her grandparents or her uncles. Nolly kept a large bundle of letters closed up in a big hatbox. One day when Nolly was in her nineties, Marion found a mass of shredded letters in a bag in the dustbin. What would you have done?  

This book raises the question of who has the right to know and who has the right to keep silent. It is also a detective story which gathers clues from multiple sources, as well as an elegant photobook. Marion has pieced the shreds together and made sense of them. She now has an archive, a chronology and a history.  She has also got to know the urgent, ironic, sometimes trenchant voices of her family members. 

After a career in critical management research and teaching, Marion Macalpine developed her photography skills to raise and communicate critical concerns. She created (with help from others) three much-viewed travelling exhibitions about the implications of privatisation of public services, including the NHS. At the same time she started making photography books, one of which, ‘Write at once and in detail’, she will discuss in this seminar. 

This seminar will be held in person and online. All are welcome to attend. Advance online registration essential.