Illustration for article titled Whats in your bag right now?

Empty out your backpacks, totes, and purses and tell us what's inside — though some researchers say that you may be revealing much more than you mean to.


Carefully-arranged photographs of the entire contents of the bags we carry, much like the selfie, have become a pretty common spin on the self-portrait (while not being an actual portrait at all). Pacific Standard has a look at some of these photos, and at Dominique Boullier, the anthropologist who studies them. She says that by looking at the similarities seen across the photos, we can get important clues about what's happening in a society:

Another bottle of hand sanitizer, another MacBook Air—there's rarely anything new to see. The images are clearly staged; the voyeuristic pleasures pretty minimal. Yet the content of the bags is still "anthropologically meaningful," says Dominique Boullier, a French sociologist who has studied these photos with a team of researchers at Sciences Po. While the images might not tell us too much about an individual (save whether she favors Macs or PCs), "they do reflect the environment he or she inhabits" . . . Bag-sharing has also emerged against the backdrop of large-scale online data collection and public surveillance, Boullier notes: "The bag traditionally is designed to hide your personal activities—but now you display it because you know that no matter what you do, everyone will know who you are, what you're doing, where you live."


So tell us what's in your bag right now (through either words or pictures), and what it would tell someone about you, where you live, and what you do.

Image: OpenKiko.

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