Personal profile

Biography

Claire is a postgraduate researcher with an interdisciplinary interest in global material and visual cultures. Her thesis ‘Representing Marock: A Study of Visual and Material Culture, Identity Formation and Community-Building in Botswana' is a study of the self-representation of Marock, a collective group of people in Botswana, Africa. The Marock scene is distinguished visually by the ‘heavy metal’ attire of its members and the additional adoption of cowboy-style apparel which references the cattle herding aspects of the history of the nation. Outwardly marked as ‘Other’, Marock exist on the periphery of society, but as a unit. The persona of a member of the Marock music subculture can be adopted as a ‘fulltime’ identity or a temporary costume to be donned on appropriate occasions. This project is the first extensive study of Marock identity and practice. The thesis considers not only what a community is, but also what a community does, and it has also addressed the methods used by Marock participants to preserve their connections to one another at a time of global crisis. Framed around the COVID-19 pandemic, this study explores the ways in which Marock participants have used social media to curate identity, particularly in the form of auto-ethnography and archives, and how participants present their own experiences and manifestations of identity in an online context. The study examines to what extent it is possible to understand how the Marock community use visual materials to articulate their identities in both online and offline contexts. Importantly, the exploration of the creation and circulation of digital images online, from an anthropological and visual culture perspective, has provided an insight into the nature of personal narratives, and archives, on social media platforms. Finally, this project offers an original approach to critically engaging with visual material culture in relation to subcultural groups. By using an innovative methodology, Claire has demonstrated how digital research from anthropological and art-historical perspectives can enable a richer understanding of community and identity.