a public event
Colloquium organized by Irene Bierman, Chair, Art History and Nancy Micklewright, Getty Foundation
More photographs of the nineteenth-century Middle East, or even of a single city such as Cairo are hidden away in various collections than one researcher could ever possibly hope to see. Assembled by travelers, missionaries, diplomats and military men on their voyages in the second half of the nineteenth century, and stored in various museums, libraries, archives, and probably family attics around the world, these collections often lack even basic information about collector, date and provenance. Often they sit unsorted in the boxes in which they were first rediscovered.
These historical photographs are complex documents whose interpretation is shifting and contingent. It is their very instability as carriers of meaning that renders photographs such a valuable resource in the study of various social and political discourses. In their complexity and instability, photographs are revealing of the complex nature of social discourse around issues of empire, imperialism, colonialism, class and gender. They are a body of evidence so compelling that they must not be overlooked, despite the challenges involved in their study.
This colloquium will bring together several distinguished scholars who have approached the study of historic photographs from a variety of perspectives.
Photographic Images, Geographical Imaginings, and the Lands of Antiquity
Joan M. Schwartz, Department of Art, Queen's University, Ontario, Canada
Geo-piety, Geopolitics, and Photography: British Surveys in Nineteenth-Century Palestine
Kathleen Stewart Howe, Director, Pomona College Museum of Art
Contact Visions: on the History of Photography in the Middle East
Ali Behdad, Chair, Comparative Literature, UCLA
Challenges of the Bourgeois Image: Photography, Desire, & the Lebanese System
Stephen Sheehi, Civilization Sequence Program, American University of Beirut
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