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Geographies of Contact

 | 
Caroline Lehni
, 
Fanny Moghaddassi
, 
Hélène Ibata
, 
et al.

IV. Sites Turned into Sights

Framing Istanbul: Resonances of the Photography of James Robertson in Envisioning the City

Wendy Shaw

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Excerpt

The history of Ottoman photography has largely been written as a linear survey of photographers practicing in the Ottoman Empire. Although an accurate account would pay greater attention to photographers working in regional centres, including Beirut and Damascus as well as smaller cities in Anatolia, such as Izmir, the epicentre of this activity, Istanbul, has generally been the focus of such work.1 Recognizing the geographical incompleteness of this approach, this essay explores aesthetic aspects of photography in late nineteenth-century Istanbul.

From the outset deeply implicated in the collection of scientific data as justification for the colonial project, photography entered the Ottoman Empire as documentation of ancient and Biblical sites immediately after its invention.2 By the 1850s, however, improving technologies worldwide enabled the establishment of local photographic studios within the empire, run by foreigners as well as Ottoman citizens. Unlike in Europe, where photogr...

Author

Professor of the Art History of Islamic Cultures at the Free University of Berlin. She is the author of Possessors and Possessed: Museums, Archaeology, and the Visualization of History in the Late Ottoman Empire (University of California Press, 2003) and Ottoman Painting: Reflections of Western Art from the Ottoman Empire to the Turkish Republic (IB Tauris, 2012). Her work explores the intersection between modernity, colonialism, postcoloniality, philosophy and art in the Islamic world through museums, art historiography, archaeology, religion, film, photography and contemporary artistic production. It features a regional emphasis on the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey within comparative perspectives with other regions of the global south and dominant Islamic legacies.

© Presses universitaires de Strasbourg, 2017

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