Picturing the problem drinker

Authors: David Beckingham*, University of Nottingham
Topics: Historical Geography, Social Geography, Women
Keywords: citizenship drink, photography, space, temperance
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 2:40 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Studio 3, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper examines the cultural politics of alcohol consumption through the historic representation of drink and the drinker in photography, assessing the ways in which these image media helped constitute spaces of citizenship around drinking. The first section of the paper will consider two British social and state sources, connecting the documentary of photography to classed and gendered discourses of citizenship. These will include temperance lantern slide images of drink in the street, and photographs taken by the police to ‘blacklist’ problem drinkers and ban them from pubs. I emphasise the double meaning of image here – noun and verb – to examine the connection between the physical technology and format of the photograph and the spatial imagination of problem drinking. I will then use these historical forms of drink media to draw out parallels and points of contrast with more recent representations of drink and problem drinking, notably associated with the so-called night-time economy.

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