'Suddenly There Was Nothing’: foot and mouth, communal trauma and landscape photography

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This paper examines the landscape photography that emerged during the Foot and Mouth epidemic in the UK in 2001. It builds upon Convery et al.’s proposal that the epidemic constituted a communally traumatic event in the worst affected areas, specifically Cumbria in North West England. This proposal can be seen as Alexander’s “cultural construction of trauma”: an act that specifically reframes a “disastrous” event as “traumatic”. However this process was aided by the landscape imagery that appeared in the intense press coverage of the epidemic, and by photographers working in the artistic or documentary sphere, such as John Darwell, Ian Geering and Nick May. This paper examines how landscape imagery can communicate the traumatic human experience of a changed lifescape, and how the broadcast of these images has contributed to the wider acknowledgement of Foot and Mouth as communal trauma. It argues that this imagery is actually essential to understanding the traumatic experience of a crisis which happened within, and to, the landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-306
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013


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