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Ethnic identity and cultural misattribution in early Ottoman photography

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posted on 08.06.2021, 14:09 authored by Cassandra Tavukciyan
When photography was first introduced in the Ottoman Empire, Islamic laws forbade the production of images of sentient beings and therefore the practice of photography to the Muslim majority. Non-Muslim minorities, in particular the Armenians, thus became significant producers of photographic practices and traditions in the late Ottoman Empire. Until the present, however, cataloguing practices have not reflected the complexity of Ottoman society, resulting in an inadequate if not misleading representation of Armenian photographers, and their contributions. Using the photographs of Gabriel Lekegian, Pascal Sébah and Jean Pascal Sébah housed in the New York Public Library this thesis investigates the extent to which the Armenian community was involved with the development, production and circulation of Ottoman photography and argues for the inclusion of their ethnic identities in catalogue records so as to begin to identify the distinct characteristics or aesthetic qualities inherent in the Armenian photographic tradition.





Master of Arts


Film and Photography Preservation and Collections Management

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type