Camera Orientalis: Reflections On Photography Of The Middle East by Ali BehdadCamera Orientalis: Reflections On Photography Of The Middle East by Ali Behdad

Camera Orientalis: Reflections On Photography Of The Middle East

byAli Behdad

Paperback | August 12, 2016

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 204 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


In the decades after its invention in 1839, photography was inextricably linked to the Middle East. Introduced as a crucial tool for Egyptologists and Orientalists who needed to document their archaeological findings, the photograph was easier and faster to produce in intense Middle Eastern light—making the region one of the original sites for the practice of photography. A pioneering study of this intertwined history, Camera Orientalis traces the Middle East’s influences on photography’s evolution, as well as photography’s effect on Europe’s view of “the Orient.”

Considering a range of Western and Middle Eastern archival material from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Ali Behdad offers a rich account of how photography transformed Europe’s distinctly Orientalist vision into what seemed objective fact, a transformation that proved central to the project of European colonialism. At the same time, Orientalism was useful for photographers from both regions, as it gave them a set of conventions by which to frame exotic Middle Eastern cultures for Western audiences. Behdad also shows how Middle Eastern audiences embraced photography as a way to foreground status and patriarchal values while also exoticizing other social classes.

An important examination of previously overlooked European and Middle Eastern photographers and studios, Camera Orientalis demonstrates that, far from being a one-sided European development, Orientalist photography was the product of rich cultural contact between the East and the West.
Ali Behdad is the John Charles Hillis Professor of Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Belated Travelers: Orientalism in the Age of Colonial Dissolution and A Forgetful Nation: On Immigration and Cultural Identity in the United States.
Title:Camera Orientalis: Reflections On Photography Of The Middle EastFormat:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 9 × 7 × 0.4 inPublished:August 12, 2016Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022635640X

ISBN - 13:9780226356402

Look for similar items by category:


Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction: Camera Orientalis
1 The Orientalist Photograph
2 The Tourist, the Collector, and the Curator: On the Lives and Afterlives of Ottoman-Era Photography
3 The Politics of Resident Photography in the Middle East: Reflections on Antoin Sevruguin’s Photographs of Qajar-Era Iran
4 In My Grandfather’s Darkroom: On Photographic (Self-) Exoticism in the Middle East
5 Local Representations of Power: On Royal Portrait Photography in Iran
Afterword: On Photography and Neo-Orientalism Today

Editorial Reviews

“I warmly welcome Behdad’s book on the historical techniques and political protocols of photography in the realization of Orientalist visual culture. Can we make any argument about the impact of colonization on modernity—post-, contra-, or plural—without exploring the profound influence of the techne of the photograph on the affective and ethical networks that have made the Middle East a crucial hub of global knowledge? This excellent contribution provides us with a crucial resource for understanding the regional conditions and cosmopolitical implications of an art that reveals what is hidden and submerged while mirroring the social and psychic salience of surface and frame.”