Just out from the UK publishing house Bloomsbury is a book by Visiting Assoc. Prof. Yasmine Nashabe Taan of the Department of Graphic Design. “Reading Marie al-Khazen’s Photographs,” the product of a decade of ongoing research, is the first full-length study of an Arab woman photographer to be published in English.
In the work, Dr. Nashabe Taan employs an interdisciplinary approach, in which photography and gender studies intersect. The project is significant because little scholarly work has been done on photography in the Middle East, and even less on women photographers.
The book focuses on gender representation in the photographs of Marie al-Khazen, a Lebanese amateur photographer, and Karimeh Abbud, a professional photographer in Palestine during the period from the 1920s to the 1930s. Dr. Nashabe Taan provides a feminist reading of the images by analyzing the female photographer’s depiction of “modernity” in Lebanon.By locating photographic practices within a particular cultural context, “Reading Marie al-Khazen’s Photographs” builds on both earlier and more contemporary contributions to the study of photography in the Middle East. One of its unique contributions is to suggest new approaches to understanding the complexities of gender relations at the turn of the last century in upper-class Lebanese society by studying the life and works of an indigenous photographer of this rarefied social background.