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Camera Ottomana

Photography and Modernity in the Ottoman Empire, 1840-1914

From its birth in 1839, photography has participated in modernity as much as it has symbolized it. Its capacity to record and display and its claim to accuracy and truth intricately linked the new technology to the dynamism of the modern world. The Ottoman Empire embraced photography with great enthusiasm. In fact, the impact and meaning of photography were compounded with the thrust of modernization and westernization of the Tanzimat movement. By the turn of the century, photography in the Ottoman lands had become a standard feature of everyday life, of public media, and of the state apparatus.

This volume explores some of the most striking aspects of the close connection between photography and modernity with a particular focus on the Ottoman Empire. Much of the material concerns the display of modernity through photography, as was so often the case in the photographs and albums commissioned by the Sultan to showcase his empire for Western audiences. Nevertheless, modernity was often embedded in the photographic act, transforming it into a common and mundane practice. Be it in the form of images disseminated through the illustrated press, postcards sent out to family members or anonymous collectors, portraits presented to friends and acquaintances, or pictures taken of employees and convicts, photography had started to invade practically every sphere of public and private life.

The visual world we live in today was born some 150 years ago. Camera Ottomana is both a homage to, and a critical assessment of, the local dimension of one of the most potent and transformative technological inventions of the recent past.

256 pages | 221 colour plates | 0 3/4 x 1

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Table of Contents

Notes on transliteration and dates 6
Acknowledgments 7
Introduction 8
Frances Terpak & Peter Bonfitto
Transferring Antiquity to Ink - Ruins from the Americas to Asia Minor and the Development of Photolithography 20
Bahattin Öztuncay
The Origins and Development of Photography in Istanbul 66
Edhem Eldem
Powerful Images - The Diffusion and Impact of Photography in the Ottoman Empire, 1870–1914 106
Zeynep Çelik
Photographing Mundane Modernity 154
Political Change 206
Abdülhamid as Paterfamilias 208
Ottoman Exoticism 210
Bookish Portraits 212
Amateur Photographer 214
Bad Boys 216
Formal Order 217
Photography at the Service of Art 218
Foreign Dignitaries in the Empire 219
A Taste for Folklore 220
Orientalist Reality 222
Serving Science and Scholarship 224
Personalized Photo Cards 226
Abidin the Snitch 228
Private Albums, Public Spaces 230
Forbidden Kitsch 232
Unity in Diversity 234
Contributors 242
Bibliography 246
Index 254

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