Accepted paper:

Selfishness or Selfie-ism: how digital images can create the ethnographical moment for intimate communication


Salma Siddique (University of St Andrews)

Paper short abstract:

I will explore the therapeutic and experiential aspects of using digital images to self-disclose and enclose the self.The rise of the selfie is the gift that keeps giving–by sharing personal data through the mobile digital image the viewer can process, analyse and disseminate sensitive data

Paper long abstract:

The paper is informed by my work as an anthropologist and as a psychotherapist volunteering with a charity working with marginalised communities.The ethnographical moment can be revealed or possibly concealed through the act of capturing the event which becomes the encounter of the interpersonal relationship between the self and the other to identify both the subject and the viewer of the body in space (Pinney and Paterson, 2003) .

The social phenomenon of the selfie is defined as "a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website". It can create an ethnographical moment (Fabian, 2005) which is both therapeutic and a reflexive biography for the (re)creation of new self-identities (Giddens, 1991) to find congruity in the story we tell ourselves and the stories we tell others about ourselves The way the subject engages, constructs and communicates becomes the ethnographical self as a resource (Collins, 2013). Research in the use of photography within the psychotherapy frame has been used to promote social skills, development of esteem building, the ordering of behaviours and emotions. I have used the selfie as a resource to encourage mutual discussion of the client's sense of self and to be equal partners in the psychotherapy session. It can help produce a coherency in their narrative. We will explore what it means to mediate work between the real self to that of the curated self in the virtual world.

panel P03
Relational resolutions: The role of digital images in ethnographic fieldwork