Colonialism, War & Photography

Workshop ZMO Berlin 10. März 2016

Zwischen 1914-18 nahmen Millionen Männer und Frauen aus Asien und Afrika am Ersten Weltkrieg teil. Während dieser Konflikt, oft als „Urkatastrophe des 20. Jahrhunderts” bezeichnet wird, untersucht ein am Zentrum Moderner Orient angesiedeltes Projekt den Krieg als einen historischen Wendepunkt in der Geschichte kultureller Begegnungen. Am 10. März 2016 veranstaltet das ZMO in Kooperation mit dem King’s College London einen Workshop, der das Medium der Fotografie in diesem Zusammenhang in den Fokus nimmt.

A Serbian Colonel showing an Indian Offcer how to use a Camera. Salonika, March 1917. © IWM Q 32816

A Serbian Colonel showing an Indian Offcer how to use a Camera. Salonika, March 1917. © IWM Q 32816

The First World War is a turning point in the history of photography; it was the first war to be documented meticulously in photographs. Official military and newspaper photographers, but also ordinary soldiers and civilians, created millions of images recording events, and life, at and behind all the fronts and in the occupied territories. Given the sheer volume of photographic sources, it is surprising how little systematic attention these have received from historians of the war. In the absence of written records or memories of war participants, such as colonial soldiers, these largely neglected photographs become even more important.

The workshop ‘Colonialism, War & Photography’ (a follow up to the event held at King’s College London in September 2015) will explore the multiple histories and intense meanings concerning war, colonialism, and photography. Through exploring the role of photography in colonial spaces and for campaigns, this event seeks to open up debate on the role of colonial practices of photography before the war, and to ask how the war not only changed these practices, but also modes of visual representation of ‘the other’ and significant spaces, such as prisoner of war camps. One overarching questions is, what are the long-term effects of such representations in disciplinary and more popular understandings of the war?

The workshop consists of three sessions: the representation of colonial soldiers prior to and during the First World War; the internment of soldiers as prisoners-of-war and the role of photography for propagandist and scientific purposes; and photographs taken in military campaigns and during occupation, and the interaction between landscape, soldiers, and active war.


9.30 – 10.00 Arrival & Registration


10.00 – 10.30 Welcome and Introduction: Larissa Schmid & Daniel Steinbach
10.30 – 12.15 Session 1: Photographing Colonial Soldiers
Chair: Franziska Roy, ZMO

Stefanie Michels, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf
Who is shooting? Photographs of German colonial soldiers before and after 1918

Petra Bopp, Freie Universität Berlin
‘A whole world against us.’ Colonial troops in private photo albums and the impact of Orientalism in World War One

Santanu Das, King’s College London
Photographs of Indian Troops in Europe, 1914-1918
12.15 – 13.15 Lunch at ZMO
13.15 – 15.00 Session 2: Photographing Colonial Prisoners-of-War
Chair: Elisabeth Tietmeyer, Museum Europäischer Kulturen, Berlin

Britta Lange, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
Anthropological registration: Photographic techniques in prisoner-of-war camps

Richard Kuba, Frobenius-Institut, Frankfurt am Main
‘When I enter a camp, everyone greets me beamingly’: Leo Frobenius’s photography of Africans in German prisoner-of-war camps and in Africa

David Low, Courtauld Institute, London
Ottoman Orientalism and the Wartime Lens: The Photographing of Prisoners during the Armenian Genocide, 1915-1916
15.15 – 17.00 Session 3: Photographing Colonial Campaigns
Chair: Heike Liebau, ZMO

Nicole Immig, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, Jena
Another civilizing mission? The French “Séction Photographique d’Armée d’Orient” in Salonica in World War One

Robert Fletcher, University of Warwick
‘Now you see what we are up against’: Bedouins and borderlands in the photography of John Bagot Glubb

Markus Wurzer, University of Graz
Armed with a Camera: Private Photographs by South Tyrolean Soldiers during the Italo-Abyssinian War, 1935–1936
General Discussion


Workshop: Colonialism, War & Photography (Part II): Photographing Colonial Soldiers & Spaces
Zentrum Moderner Orient, Kirchweg 33, 14129 Berlin
Convenors: Larissa Schmid, Zentrum Moderner Orient, Daniel Steinbach, King’s College London
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