Out now: ’The Brownies in Palestina’: Politicizing geographies in family photographs

Photography and Culture 2013Pasternak, Gil, “’The Brownies in Palestina’: Politicizing geographies in family photographs,” Photography and Culture, 6(1): 41–64, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013.

This article is concerned with the production of domestic familial knowledge in connection to the modern Israeli State’s geographical terrain. Considering the period stretching from the establishment of the Israeli State in 1948 to the present day, it focuses on a case study of a family album of pictures portraying Israeli subjects in a landscape that is concurrently perceived as the home of the Palestinian as well as the Jewish-Israeli peoples. By attending to Palestinian and Israeli historical accounts that investigate the Israeli State’s ideological administration of landscape, alongside the theorisation of vernacular photography and the methodologies often used to unpack such imagery, I demonstrate how landscape-family-photographs may confront the Zionist “Geographical Imagination” and the physical landscape the Zionist project designed and imposed upon the “Israeli” land. Such photographs, I argue, extend and alter existing Zionist representational regimes, challenging formal Israeli historiography. While this article centres on the production of landscape-family-photographs within the Israeli State, it intends to offer an insight into the impact both the commercialisation and technological simplification of the photographic medium had on the use of photography in cultural politics. I suggest that photography in this context does much more than simply serve the distribution of power by state officials. In the vernacular, I argue, photography must be read as a potentially subversive apparatus capable of undermining formal doctrines and canonical histories.

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