Childhood and Youth

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    In June 2014, US teenager Breanna Mitchell took a smiling selfie outside
    Auschwitz and posted it on Twitter. The photograph went viral and Mitchell
    was heavily criticized across international media for being inappropriate and
    insensitive, presumably because she was seen to have engaged in a shallow,
    self-centered act at a site of such significant historical and communal trauma.
    In her defense, Mitchell explained that the photograph was a tribute to her
    father: they had always wanted to visit this site together but he had passed
    away before they had the chance. The “Auschwitz selfie” triggered fascinating
    media commentary on the futures of young people’s self-representation as
    teens like Mitchell engage with new media and explore changing cultural
    norms for practicing life narrative. Arguably, Mitchell’s self-representation was
    guided by the technologies of memory and experience and the community
    norms around youth self-representation that surround young people like her
    (see Dewey; Margalit; “Nat”). This controversy offers a neat summary of some
    of the core tensions affecting the autojbiographical representations of, and by,
    children and youth: the limits of self-representation, cultural participation,
    experience, agency, autonomy, ethics, methods, and the role of new technologies
    and media in enabling children’s autobiographical representations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)303-306
    Number of pages4
    Journala/b: Auto/Biography Studies
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2017


    • childhood
    • auto/biography
    • self-representation
    • selfies


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