Decolonizing images

A new history of photographic cultures in Egypt

Author:
Ronnie Close
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The events of 25 January 2011 placed Egypt at the front and centre of discussions around radical transformations taking place in global photographic cultures. Yet Egypt and photography share a longer, richer history rarely included in Western histories of the medium. Decolonizing Images focuses on the local visual heritage of Egypt and, in doing so, continues the urgent process of decolonizing the canon of photography. Drawing on a wide range of historical and contemporary visual materials this book discovers the potential of photography as a decolonizing force. In diverse ways the medium has been used to influence political affairs, cultural life and reimaginings of Egypt in the transformation from a colony to a sovereign nation. Ronnie Close presents a new account of the visual cultures produced in and exhibited inside of Egypt by interpreting the camera’s ability to conceal as much as it reveals. He rethinks how the visual has constituted a distinct cultural sensibility on its own terms. This book moves from the initial encounters between local knowledge and Western-led modernity to explore how the image intersects with issues of representation, censorship, activism and art photography. The image disseminates knowledge from the specificity of its time but retains a singular property of its own creative expression that is more than the sum of its parts. Close overturns Eurocentric understandings of the photograph through a compelling narrative on this indigenous visual culture in a complex vision of decolonial difference in contemporary Egypt.

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