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Analysis of Discourses Encompassing the 'Migrant Mother' Picture
Unformatted Document Text:  9 material of each genre. 1) Photojournalism I examined six articles of newspapers and magazines that contained the Migrant Mother picture. Although the six articles are in the same genre, the meaning of the Migrant Mother picture was differently framed according to its accompanying texts and other photographs. First, there are two cases of using the Migrant Mother picture as a symbol of migrant workers' poverty. “U.S. Photos Show Migrants’ Plight” of the Sunday Pantagraph (June 9, 1940) explains that migrant workers are poverty stricken and thus the federal government has built sanitary camps for them (Figure 2). The article has five photographs. The first photograph shows migrants’ tents with the caption, “migrant workers camp, California.” At its right, there is a photograph of well- organized government camps. Below the photographs, the Migrant Mother picture is presented with the caption, “Madonna of Migrants. California.” The Migrant Mother picture is often called 'Migrant Madonna', because it looks like the Madonna and Christ child images that have been circulating in Western culture for centuries. With this caption, the Migrant Mother picture is shown as the embodiment of an American character in the mother’s attributed perseverance and protectiveness of her children. The caption does not provide specific information on the photographed subjects. The next photograph shows a child with flies on his arms and legs. The caption says, “Refugee Child, Imperial Valley, California.” The last photograph shows a mother lying on a bed and a child playing beside the bed. The caption reveals that the mother is recovering from pneumonia. The four photographs, except that of government camps, are intended to show migrants’ poverty and plight. The poverty shown in the four photographs legitimizes the government's work of building camps for migrants. In this article, the Migrant Mother picture implies that the poverty of migrant workers has been relieved through government aid. In an article from Survey Graphic, the Migrant Mother picture was also used as a symbol of migrant worker poverty that is in need of government aid. "From the Ground up" of Survey Graphic (Sep. 1936) introduces the demonstration project of the RA on the West Coast with six photographs. The photographs, carried with written texts, show the government projects: resettled farmer, homestead project, and government camp. There are two photographs taking up one full-page. One is the Migrant Mother picture, and the other is a portrait of an old, weary-looking man. The caption of the Migrant Mother picture is, “A blighted pea

Authors: Choi, Hyunju.
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9
material of each genre.
1) Photojournalism
I examined six articles of newspapers and magazines that contained the Migrant
Mother picture. Although the six articles are in the same genre, the meaning of the Migrant
Mother picture was differently framed according to its accompanying texts and other
photographs.
First, there are two cases of using the Migrant Mother picture as a symbol of
migrant workers' poverty. “U.S. Photos Show Migrants’ Plight” of the Sunday Pantagraph
(June 9, 1940) explains that migrant workers are poverty stricken and thus the federal
government has built sanitary camps for them (Figure 2).
The article has five photographs. The first photograph shows migrants’ tents with
the caption, “migrant workers camp, California.” At its right, there is a photograph of well-
organized government camps. Below the photographs, the Migrant Mother picture is
presented with the caption, “Madonna of Migrants. California.” The Migrant Mother
picture is often called 'Migrant Madonna', because it looks like the Madonna and Christ
child images that have been circulating in Western culture for centuries. With this caption,
the Migrant Mother picture is shown as the embodiment of an American character in the
mother’s attributed perseverance and protectiveness of her children. The caption does not
provide specific information on the photographed subjects. The next photograph shows a
child with flies on his arms and legs. The caption says, “Refugee Child, Imperial Valley,
California.” The last photograph shows a mother lying on a bed
and a child playing beside
the bed. The caption reveals that the mother is recovering from pneumonia.
The four photographs, except that of government camps, are intended to show
migrants’ poverty and plight. The poverty shown in the four photographs legitimizes the
government's work of building camps for migrants. In this article, the Migrant Mother
picture implies that the poverty of migrant workers has been relieved through government
aid.
In an article from Survey Graphic, the Migrant Mother picture was also used as a
symbol of migrant worker poverty that is in need of government aid. "From the Ground
up" of Survey Graphic (Sep. 1936) introduces the demonstration project of the RA on the
West Coast with six photographs.
The photographs, carried with written texts, show the government projects:
resettled farmer, homestead project, and government camp. There are two photographs
taking up one full-page. One is the Migrant Mother picture, and the other is a portrait of an
old, weary-looking man. The caption of the Migrant Mother picture is, “A blighted pea


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