Photographs of Famous Women: Photography, the “Prostitute,” and Modernity in Nineteenth-Century Iran

Book Talks

Photographs of Famous Women: Photography, the “Prostitute,” and Modernity in Nineteenth-Century Iran
Wednesday, January 30, 2019
4:00 PM
193 Kaplan Hall


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This talks examines the public figure of the female “prostitute” as an agent in driving photographic practices in late nineteenth-century Iran, in particular her role in participating in and shaping a visual modernity that was in flux at the time. As a small industry of erotic photography developed at this time in Tehran, photographs of prostitutes created a cult of famous female celebrities, thus reconfiguring not only the social role and significance of these women, but also creating conditions that would eventually lead to all women becoming “public” in twentieth-century Iran. This presentation will also complicate the notions of being public, female, and famous within a nineteenth-century Iranian context.

Staci Gem Scheiwiller is Associate Professor of Modern Art History in the Art Department at California State University, Stanislaus. She received her Ph.D. in the History of Art from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2009. Her field is Modern and Contemporary Art with an emphasis in Iranian art and photography and a minor field in Islamic Art. She is currently continuing her research on gender in Qajar photography, as well as connecting Qajar photohistories with Ottoman ones, although she is still writing on contemporary Iranian art. Her most recent publications include Liminalities of Gender and Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century Iranian Photography: Desirous Bodies (Routledge, 2017), an edited volume with Markus Ritter entitled The Indigenous Lens? Early Photography in the Near and Middle East (De Gruyter, 2017), and another edited volume, Performing the Iranian State: Visual Culture and Representations of Iranian Identity (Anthem Press, 2013).


Sponsor(s): Center for Near Eastern Studies