Mission Statement

Photorientalist.org is an independent public history website dedicated to the visual history of the Middle East from its 19th century beginnings until the 20th century before the digital age. The first images of the region were taken by European photographers and travelers shortly after the birth of photography in their own continent. Although these photographs offer valuable documentation of the people, landscapes, and archeological sites of the region, they were taken through a western lens reflecting a bias which came to be labeled as Orientalism. However, as the medium evolved it was taken over by indigenous photographers whose work stood out as more authentic than that of their predecessors.

The mission of photorientalist.org is to preserve and share its growing collection in order to raise awareness about the rich and diverse history of the Middle East and North Africa. While the region has often been portrayed as homogenous and primitive, photographs spanning two hundred years of history prove the contrary. Moreover, in order to explain the significance of the images in our collection, we contextualize the photographs with in-depth articles or personal narratives. The texts and photographs are featured in exhibitions focused on a range of topics including historical personalities and events, archeological sites and trails, and successful businesses and ventures.

In order to reach a wider audience and cover a broader range of topics, the website seeks to collaborate with other collectors who share the same passion by showcasing their images and the stories behind them. Submissions may be made in the form of scanned images and text which will be appropriately credited. The website’s success depends on these valuable contributions.

For submissions, please contact us at nschiller@photorientalist.org

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