A photograph from the cover of the book In Visible Prescence, featuring three women and a young boy.

Building upon her extensive research on memory, photography, culture and consumption in post-Soviet Russia, anthropology and sociology professor Olga Shevchenko has co-authored a new book: In Visible Presence: Soviet Afterlives in Family Photos, published by the MIT Press last fall. Shevchenko, the college’s Paul H. Hunn ’55 Professor in Social Studies, teaches courses including Thinking the Family Album, Images and Society, and Invitation to Sociology.

Image of book cover for In Visible Presence.In Visible Presence, Shevchenko’s third book and her first with Oksana Sarkisova of the Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives, pairs more than 50 Soviet-era family photo collections with extensive interviews of their owners. In a review of the book, Laura Wexler of Yale University calls it “a brilliant study of the powerful ways in which family photographs work, both privately and publicly, to manifest and sacralize the nation.” Donna West Brett of the University of Sydney says the book is “a powerful, materially rich analysis of Soviet-era family photographs as affective touchstones for memory, loss and absences. Its poignant timeliness in a new era of conflict is a reminder of the power of photography to shape—and be shaped by—the social, cultural and political landscape.”

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Photo, at top: Photograph featured on the cover of In Visible Presence: Ludmila Fedorenko, Untitled from the series The Time When I Was Not Born, 1993; toned gelatin silver print on paper; Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University. Scan by Peter Jacobs