Imaging and Imagining Palestine
IMAGING AND IMAGINING PALESTINE
The British Mandate period in Palestine was a tumultuous time, one that began with the cessation of more than four centuries of Ottoman rule and culminated in the Nakba with the creation of the State of Israel.
In this respect, we might view it as a period of significant transition, transformation and, ultimately, displacement and dislocation. From a cultural and social perspective, the Mandate period saw the continuation of the modernisation project begun under the Ottomans.
This process is entangled and evident in photographic perspectives, which during this time was also marked by significant shifts and developments in technology that enabled new modes of photography, in turn impacting the imaging and imagining of Palestine.
The first photograph of Palestine was taken in Jerusalem in 1839, the same year in which the process was invented, making it one of the first places in the world to be imaged using the new process.1
In the years to follow, photographs of Palestine formed the basis of photobooks and postcards. By the early twentieth century, non-professional photographers began to take similar photographs, as well.
This volume attempts to create a first overview of photography during the British Mandate, bringing together scholars and experts from disciplines ranging from history to cultural studies to architectural theorists, archivists and creative practitioners.
It intentionally focuses on the interactions of photo-graphic production and its effects within indigenous Palestinian communities rather than Jewish and Zionist photography of the Yishuv, which although inflected across this volume, is well documented and researched.2
In light of this, defining what constitutes Palestinian photography is a controversial topic. Here Issam Nassar offers a useful framework for defining ‘local photography’, that questions of photographic production and consumption.