‘We Are No More’: Objects From Previous Lives

I recently came across an interesting photo exhibition on the news, and though that some of you might find it interesting from a literacy aspect. Unfortunately, the exhibition is in Montreal so I won’t be able to attend it in person, but I have read a few articles about it (both in French and in English).

The French photographer Valerian Mazataud visited three Syrian refugee camps in Jordan in autumn 2012. Rather than focusing on disembodied information ― statistics, numbers of victims, bombings, etc. ― Mazataud wanted to bring the humans to the foreground in this photo exhibition called ‘We Are No More’. On his website he explains:

‘At the beginning of the project was a simple question. “What did you keep from your previous life?” Sometimes it was an object, sometimes a memory, other times a simple gesture. A flag, a wristband, a diary, two necklaces… What would you bring with you if your home was bombed or looted by soldiers? What would you gather if you had to flee through the night and walk for days to a refugee camp?’ (FocusZero)

Many literacy artefacts were amongst the objects the refugees showed to Mazataud: sketchbooks, a necklace with “love” written on it, a mobile phone, the Quran, a death certificate, etc. (see pictures here).

I find this photo exhibition very touching. I also found it very fascinating from an academic point of view because it underlines the importance of literacy artifacts in people’s lives (particularly in difficult and extreme situations). It reminded me of the work of Kate Pahl and Jennifer Rowsell on artifactual literacy (particularly Pahl, 2004). What do you think about it?



An excellent article on “Capturing the sociomateriality of digital literacy events”

I have read a superb article by  Ibrar Bhatt and Roberto de Roock in “Research in Learning Technology”.   It’s open access too.

 These researchers have grappled with the challenges presented in ethnographically founded approaches to digital literacy events.  We simultaneously want methods to do so much.  We want to bring out the ‘big picture’, rejecting any idea that attention to text alone is sufficient without a greater understanding of context.  And with broadly sociocultural understandings we have complex, dynamic ideas relating to “context” as shaping and shaped by, specific interactions.  Yet we also know that to study any event closely, especially when considering humans interacting with one another in mediated online actions, demands attention to detail at forensic levels.  A few seconds of data can take hours to collect and analyse.

Bhatt and de Roock have achieved what I would have thought impossible in just one article.  They have illustrated, in considerable and helpful detail, methods of collecting data in digital literacy events using video and screen capture, within an overall commitment to ethnography.  The concept of granularity of analysis is not new in itself, but it is hard to think of a more clearly and concisely explained approach than this.  But far more than this they have also made a tremendous contribution to our theoretical understandings.  I’ve been trying for some years to bring the ideas of Karen Barad on performative enactments together with Latour’s take on sociomateriality. It’s tragically easy to find failed drafts that went nowhere in my files! 

 In my opinion Bhatt and de Roock have nailed it.  There’s no point my wasting your time in further describing their work when you could much more fruitfully engage with it directly. 

Literacy in the News 2: Ukraine: Document Reveals UK Stance On Crisis


A document detailing the UK’s position on the Ukraine crisis has been seen being taken into Downing Street.

It was photographed as an official went into Downing Street for a meeting of the National Security Council as the crisis deepened.

Sky’s Jason Farrell said: “It looks like some kind of a briefing document that’s being taken into the meeting…….”It does give away some of Britain’s position towards Russia.

Farrell added: “It is extremely embarrassing that the points of discussion have come out in this way.”

A man holding papers

Nun’s Literacy – Medieval to Modern

Call for papers for the annual conference for History of Women Religious of Britain & Ireland that will take place at the University of Glasgow, 29-30 August 2014.

 Deadline for 200 word abstracts is 28 March 2014, more details at


Nuns literacy

Any aspect of literacy & women religious of Britain & Ireland including but not limited to:

•             Reading

•             Writing

•             Learning

•             Textual cultures

•             Book ownership

•             Education of women religious

•             Visual literacy

•             Numeracy

•             Texts written by or read by women religious

•             Latin and vernacular texts

•             Language

•             Communication & exchange of texts

•             Record keeping & governance

•             Letters

•             Map and plan making

•             Musicology

•             Female agency & power

•             Codocology

•             Community libraries

•             Acts of reading and writing

•             Community texts

•             Printing

•             Craft & creation

•             Stereotypes of women religious & literacy 



Literacy in the News: World Cup – Slogans on player undergarments to be banned

New rules for literacy in our time:

Players will no longer be able to raise their shirts and reveal a slogan or message on an undergarment following a ruling by football’s rule-making body, the International Football Association Board.


If you spot more literacy-related stories in the news, post them here!!!