Photography, Memory, and Refugee Identity

The Voyage of the SS Walnut, 1948

Lynda Mannik

  • Published: 2013. Paperback 2014
  • Subject Listing: Anthropology
  • Bibliographic information: 216 pp., 39 bandw illustrations, 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: US rights only
  • Distributed for: UBC Press
  • Contents

In 1948, a small ship carrying Estonian refugees arrived at Pier 21 in Halifax. In this absorbing work, anthropologist Lynda Mannik analyzes the refugee experience through the photographic record of those who made that harrowing voyage. Drawing on a collection of photographs taken during the voyage and at Pier 21, Mannik asks surviving passengers to describe their journey, their reception in Canada, and to what extent the photos reflect their experiences as they remember them. The photographs in the SS Walnut collection, she argues, bear witness to the refugee experience even as the meanings attached to them have changed over time and in shifting contexts.
Lynda Mannik is a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at Memorial University.

"An excellent resource for students and researchers who work with historical collections of images, Lynda Mannik's book enhances our understanding of the complexity of visual histories and the creation of Canadian identities through photography. Rich in ethnographic detail and critical methodology, this book does a superb job of revealing the tension that resides at the intersection of public and private viewings of images and the consequent implications for the production of identity."
-Andrea Walsh, Department of Anthropology, University of Victoria


1. Passengers' Perspectives: The Voyage and Detention, 1948-49

2. Arrival by Boat and the Media, 1948

3. Still Photos Come to Life at the Pier 21 Museum in 1999

4. Memories and Stories Sixty Years Later

5. Nationalism and Identity in Retrospect