Imaging and imagining Palestine

The famous line that “the camera does not lie,” has long been shown to be untrue. Long before digital manipulation of photographs was possible there were ways to take and modify photographs to distract from the truth or to emphasize certain elements of the image.

It was always an image. Never the reality.

However, with the development of photography in the 1830s came the spontaneous creation of visual images of places, people, artefacts, and activities so that people far from the location of the photograph could “see” what the original viewer observed.

One of the most photographed places in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century was Palestine.

The immense number of official and family photographs, as well as snaps by travellers and journalists, have created a rich mosaic of life in Palestine before 1948.

Some of these archives are appearing in Facebook groups devoted to historical images of Palestine. Old Palestinian Pictures is one such group and its archives are public.

For a more complete discussion of photography as a means to image and to imagine Palestine, this recent publication offers substantial tools:

Imaging and Imagining Palestine: Photography, Modernity and the Biblical Lens, 1918–1948 Editors: Karène Sanchez Summerer and Sary Zananiri

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