Camera Palaestina:
Photography and Displaced Histories of Palestine

Co-authored with Salim Tamari and Issam Nassar.


Camera Palaestina:
Photography and Displaced Histories of Palestine

Camera Palaestina: Photography and Displaced Histories of Palestine is a critical exploration of Wasif Jawhariyyeh and his seven photography albums. Jawhariyyeh lived in Jerusalem from 1904 to 1972, and the nine hundred images in his albums chronicle a cultural history of Ottoman and Mandate Palestine. Shedding new light on this foundational period, the authors explore not just major historical events and the development of an urban bourgeois lifestyle, but an emerging Palestinian aesthetic. Issam Nassar, Stephen Sheehi, and Salim Tamari locate this photographic archive at the juncture between the history of photography in Palestine and the everyday social history of Palestine through photography. They offer evidence of the unbroken field of material, historical, and collective experience that constitutes an incontestable continuum of what is Arab Palestine, from its living past to its living present.


Hanan Toukan

Author of: The Politics of Art: Dissent and Cultural Diplomacy in Palestine Lebanon and Jordan

This book captures one of the most critical contributions of the growing field of the visual cultures of the Arab region and Palestine in particular: the idea that found images are in and of themselves telling of the ways in which colonial regimes of visuality, like orientalism, were unknowingly countered in everyday practices of those that lived them. Camera Palaestina demands that we look beyond the gaze and into the lived experiences of those Indigenous image makers that collected material about their political and social lives on their own terms.

Ariella Aïsha Azoulay

Author of: The Politics of Art: Dissent and Cultural Diplomacy in Palestine Lebanon and Jordan

This book is a brilliant potential history of Palestine, centered on seven photographic albums collected and curated by Wasif Jawhariyyeh from the mid-1920s to the mid-1960s. With decolonial commitment and intellectual breadth, the authors turn the photographs into an inalienable entitlement (kawshun) to Palestine, and turn Palestine into an 'uninterrupted albeit traumatic' place, whose existence can neither be eradicated by Zionists actions nor erased by European narratives. This is a must-read book for scholars of Palestine and photography.

Zeynep Çelik

Author of: Displaying the Orient and Urban Forms of Colonial Confrontations

Camera Palaestina opens a new chapter in the history of photography in the Middle East. Traditionally dominated by analyses of Orientalist photography taken by Europeans and American, the focus shifts to photographers from the region. This unique book covers Palestine's political, social, and cultural history from an underrepresented perspective during times of critical transformation.

Rebecca L. Stein

Author of: Screen Shots: State Violence on Camera in Israel and Palestine

Camera Palaestina offers readers both a rich visual chronicle of Palestinian social and political life in the late Ottoman and British Mandate period and a granular account of the history of photography in Palestine. The story of these archives—with their multiple genres, subjects, and standpoints—highlights the polyvalent terms of Palestinian modernity in the pivotal decades before 1948 while offering the grounds for a new theorization of Palestinian spectatorship as anticolonial practice.

Margaret Olin

Author of: Touching Photographs

Who knew that one man's photographic collection could reveal such a multifaceted picture of a society? Camera Palaestina shows how these photographs, their arrangement, and Wasif Jawhariyyeh's commentary paint an intriguing picture of Palestinian society before the Nakba, one with more ethical complexity, more religious coexistence (including with Jews), less homogeneity, and above all a society less centered on colonial powers than some may have been led to believe. The three intertwined perspectives on these albums collaborate to trouble notions of 'the' Palestinian subject. This is a profound study of the photographic practices of collecting, arranging, and annotating.