Our Work


Ali Behdad Explores Photographic Constructs

Professor Ali Behdad has published two articles centered on photography and its constructs. The first, “On Vernacular Portrait Photography in Iran,” is available in Imagining Everyday Life: Engagements with Vernacular Photography, edited by Tina M. Campt, Marianne Hirsch, Gil Hochberg, and Brian Wallis. This book brings together leading scholars and critics to consider vernacular photography: snapshots and family pictures; photo albums and displays; mug shots and identification photographs; and ethnographic, scientific, industrial, and architectural images. Professor Behdad’s article puts pressure on postcolonial critics’ celebratory views of non-Western vernacular photography by demonstrating that to the extent to which it is possible to be both the subject and the object of representation as a Middle Eastern subject, vernacular photographs in Iran do not necessarily constitute a locus of opposition in relation to the official or dominant forms of photographic representation.

Professor Behdad’s article, Le harem pluriel: Jean Geiser and Photographic Orientalism, is also available in the first Yale French Studies issue on photography, which examines French photography’s place in art, identity, and society through a lens of diversity and interdisciplinary investigation. Professor Behdad’s article complicates symptomatic readings of postcolonial art historians, asking whether colonialism as a conceptual paradigm is sufficient to describe the images of a photographer like Geiser and whether his photographs perform the same ideological function as those of other Orientalist photographers.