The Stranger, the Tears, the Photograph, the Touch

Divine Presence in Spain and Europe since 1500
$55.00 / €52.00 / £44.00
Publication date: 
310 pages, paperback, with 344 illustrations, release date: March 23, 2017

This book is an expanded, larger-format, and more highly illustrated version of a smaller book released by CEU Press in 2011. It presents and comments on an extensive set of religious and personal photographs and illustrations that depict people along with divine beings or absent loved ones. First, Christian examines the periodic appearances of Christ-like strangers in the Spanish countryside through the vision of a woman in La Mancha in 1931. Then he considers the long history of images with liquids on them not only for early modern Spain, but also in the United States, Italy and France in the 1940s and 1950s. The third and most extensive chapter addresses the iconography of illustrated depictions of divine and spirit beings in conjunction with humans and how its conventions were incorporated into commercial postcards and personal photographs, culminating in photo montages of families and their absent soldiers in World War I. The fourth theme is new to this edition. It compares the electric moments in Spanish communities when people ritually come into physical contact with saints and with animals, or transform themselves into saints or animals for ritual purposes. Over 50 of the color photographs by Spain's preeminent documentary photographer, Cristina García Rodero, are included.


Chapter 1. Toribia del Val and the Mysterious Wayfarer of Casas de Benítez

Chapter 2. Images as Beings: Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Chapter 3. Presence, Absence, and the Supernatural in Postcard and Family Photographs, Europe 1895-1920

Visions Depicted
Connecting with the Absent and the Supernaturals
Supernaturals and the Absent in World War I postcards
Absence in Family Photographs around World War I

Chapter 4. Juxtapositions: Saints, Humans, Animals in Spanish Fiestas; with photographs by Cristina García Rodero

People Touching Saints
People Touching Animals
Crossing the Boundaries: Images as People / People as Images
Animals as Humans / Humans as Animals
Images and Animals


Summing Up


List of Figures