Everyday Life and History in Ottoman Illustrated Journals

Episode 309

hosted by Susanna Ferguson

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Photography came to the Ottoman empire almost as soon as it was invented in Europe. Over subsequent decades, however, techniques improved, cameras got cheaper and more portable, and photographic production, circulation, and collection in Ottoman lands moved outside of the rarefied circles of the elite studios and the state. In this episode, Ahmet Ersoy discusses one of the main media for this kind of vernacular photography--the illustrated journals of the late Ottoman empire. What can understanding the circulation of images in this form help us to understand about history, identity, and print culture in the late Ottoman Empire, as well as about how to study photography itself?

This episode is part of a series entitled “The Visual Past.”

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Contributor Bios

Ahmet Ersoy is Associate Professor at the History Department at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul. His work deals with the history of the Late Ottoman Empire with a special focus on the changing role and status of visual culture during a period of westernizing change. He is the author of the book, Architecture and the Late Ottoman Historical Imaginary: Reconfiguring the Architectural Past in a Modernizing Empire, and he is currently pursuing research on the confluence of photography, new media technologies and print culture in the late Ottoman world.
Susanna Ferguson is a Ph.D. Candidate in Middle Eastern History at Columbia University. She is currently working on a dissertation entitled "Tracing Tarbiya: Women, Gender and Childrearing in Egypt and Lebanon, 1865-1939.

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Episode No. 309
Release Date: 30 March 2017
Recording Location: ANAMED, Istanbul
Audio editing by Onur Engin
Music: Müzeyyen Senar - Ayrılık Yaman Kelime
Images and bibliography courtesy of Ahmet Ersoy


Public interest for the first issue of the magazine Resimli Roman (The Illustrated Novel), print from original photograph, in Musavver Muhit, 20 (12 Mart 1325 [March 25, 1909]), 55.
Caravanserai near lake Apolyond, print from original photograph, in Servet-i Fünun, 116 (20 Mart 1309 [April 1, 1893]), 185.
Reading room in Sarajevo, print from original photograph in Ma'lumat 147 (1315 [1899]), 569.
Ruins of Sardis (left) and Hierapolis (right), zincographic print from original photograph in Ma'lumat 22 (9 Teşrin-i Sani 1315 [November 2, 1895]), 473.
Ahmed İhsan, views of Afyon Karahisar and its citadel, print based on photograph, Servet-i Fünun, no. 295 (23 Teşrin-i Evvel 13012 [November 5, 1896]), 132-33

Select Bibliography

Gerry Beegan, The Mass Image: A Social History of Photomechanical Reproduction in Victorian London (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).

Zeynep Çelik and Edhem Eldem, Camera Ottomana: Photography and Modernity in the Ottoman Empire, 1840-1914 (Istanbul: Koç University Publications, 2014).

Elizabeth Edwards, The Camera as Historian: Amateur Photographers and Historical Imagination, 1885-1918 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2012).

Ahmet A. Ersoy, “Ottomans and the Kodak Galaxy: Archiving Everyday Life and Historical Space in Ottoman Illustrated Journals,” in History of Photography, 40:3 (2016): 330-357.

Ahmet Ersoy, “Camdaki Hafıza: Ahmed Rasim, Fotoğraf ve Zaman,” in e-skop (http://www.e-skop.com/skopbulten/camdaki-hafiza-ahmed-rasim-fotograf-ve-zaman/2457).

Benjamin C. Fortna, Learning to Read in the Late Ottoman Empire and the Early Turkish Republic (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011)


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