Imaging and Imagining Palestine

Photography, Modernity and the Biblical Lens, 1918–1948


Imaging and Imagining Palestine is the first comprehensive study of photography during the British Mandate period (1918–1948). It addresses well-known archives, photos from private collections never available before and archives that have until recently remained closed. This interdisciplinary volume argues that photography is central to a different understanding of the social and political complexities of Palestine in this period.

While Biblical and Orientalist images abound, the chapters in this book go further by questioning the impact of photography on the social histories of British Mandate Palestine. This book considers the specific archives, the work of individual photographers, methods for reading historical photography from the present and how we might begin the process of decolonising photography.

"Imaging and Imagining Palestine presents a timely and much-needed critical evaluation of the role of photography in Palestine. Drawing together leading interdisciplinary specialists and engaging a range of innovative methodologies, the volume makes clear the ways in which photography reflects the shifting political, cultural and economic landscape of the British Mandate period, and experiences of modernity in Palestine. Actively problematising conventional understandings of production, circulation and the in/stability of the photographic document, Imaging and Imagining Palestine provides essential reading for decolonial studies of photography and visual culture studies of Palestine." - Chrisoula Lionis, author of Laughter in Occupied Palestine: Comedy and Identity in Art and Film
"Imaging and Imagining Palestine is the first and much needed overview of photography during the British Mandate period. From well-known and accessible photographic archives to private family albums, it deals with the cultural and political relations of the period thinking about both the Western perceptions of Palestine as well as its modern social life. This book brings together an impressive array of material and analyses to form an interdisciplinary perspective that considers just how photography shapes our understanding of the past as well as the ways in which the past might be reclaimed." - Jack Persekian, Founding Director of Al Ma'mal Foundation for Contemporary Art in Jerusalem
"Imaging and Imagining Palestine draws together a plethora of fresh approaches to the field of photography in Palestine. It considers Palestine as a central node in global photographic production and the ways in which photography shaped the modern imaging and imagining from within a fresh regional theoretical perspective." - Salwa Mikdadi, Director al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art, New York University Abu Dhabi
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Karène Sanchez Summerer is Associate Professor at Leiden University. Her recent publications include a volume edited with Sary Zananiri titled European Cultural Diplomacy and Arab Christians in Palestine, 1918–1948: Between Contention and Connection (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021) and a volume edited with Inger Marie Okkenhaug titled Christian Missions and Humanitarianism in The Middle East, 1850-1950: Ideologies, Rhetoric, and Practices (Brill, 2020).

Sary Zananiri is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Leiden University. He completed his Ph.D. at Monash University (2014). His recent publications include European Cultural Diplomacy and Arab Christians in Palestine, 1918–1948: Between Contention and Connection (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021), edited with Karène Sanchez Summerer.
"What, one might ask, is the relevance of old photographs to international affairs, or indeed International Affairs? The short answer is that images, like words, have political and social contexts—and when the issue in question is Palestine, an image is seldom just an image.
Focusing on the 30-year period of British rule, the contributors to this edited volume have drawn on a remarkably wide range of sources. Readers of the standard literature on Mandate Palestine may be familiar with the photographs of the American Colony in Jerusalem, which feature in two chapters. But they may not know how it used photography to drum up support for the girls’ orphanage it ran in the aftermath of the First World War in conjunction with a Christian weekly in New York. Nor are they likely to be aware that the École biblique et archéologique, run by Dominicans in the city, built up a collection of 30,000 images (now in the process of digitization) which recorded their scholarly work while also reflecting the political turbulence that swirled around them. Or, to take a very different example, that in its massive photographic archive in Washington DC, National Geographic magazine has 3,000 black-and-white images—both published and unpublished—of Mandate Palestine."
- Roger Hardy, University of Oxford, UK, in International Affairs 98: 1 (2022).
Salim Tamari

List of Figures
Notes on Contributors
Notes on Transliteration

1 Imaging and Imagining Palestine: An Introduction
Sary Zananiri

Part 1: In and out of the Archives: Photographic Collections and the Historical Case Studies

2 ‘Little Orphans of Jerusalem’: The American Colony’s Christian Herald Orphanage in Photographs and Negatives
Abigail Jacobson

3 Swedish Imaginings, Investments and Local Photography in Jerusalem, 1925–1939
Inger Marie Okkenhaug

4 The Dominicans’ Photographic Collection in Jerusalem: Beyond a Catholic Perception of the Holy Land?
Norig Neveu and Karène Sanchez Summerer

5 Bearers of Memory: Photo Albums as Sources of Historical Study in Palestine
Issam Nassar

Part 2: Points of Perspective: Photographers and Their Lens

6 Resilient Resistance: Colonial Biblical, Archaeological and Ethnographical Imaginaries in the Work of Chalil Raad (Khalīl Raʿad), 1891–1948
Rona Sela

7 Open Roads: John D. Whiting, Diary in Photos, 1934–1939
Rachel Lev

8 Documenting the Social: Frank Scholten Taxonomising Identity in British Mandate Palestine
Sary Zananiri

Part 3: After Effects: Methodologies, Approaches and Reconceptualising Photography

9 Edward Keith-Roach’s Favourite Things: Indigenising National Geographic’s Images of Mandatory Palestine
Yazan Kopty

10 Decolonising the Photography of Palestine: Searching for a Method in a Plate of Hummus
Stephen Sheehi

11 Urban Encounters: Imaging the City in Mandate Palestine
Nadi Abusaada

12 Epilogue
Özge Calafato and Aude Aylin de Tapia
Anyone interested in the Middle East, Palestinian history, history of photography, Middle Eastern visual culture, religious and Orientalist imaging, decolonising photography, cultural studies, and cultural histories.
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