Imaging the Imagined: On the Representation of Arab Women in Historical Photography


Louise Foucar Marshall Building, Room 490
845 N. Park Ave
85719 Tucson , AZ


Fri, 10/12/2018 - 3:30pm


Part of the Fall 2018 Middle Eastern and North African Studies Colloquium Series

Sama Alshaibi, Professor of Photography/Video Art Division, University of Arizona 

This presentation will focus on Professor Alshaibi’s newest photographic project “Carry Over” which recalls and problematizes the Oriental portrait photography from the late 19th and early 20th century. Alshaibi will present the vintage photographs of five major studios in North Africa and the Middle East, which have contributed significantly to the history of photography, although rarely mentioned in Western-publications on the subject. By using historical photographic methods such as Albumen printing, and creating her own sculptures that decodes props staged in the historical images, Alshaibi’s project deconstructs how complex female Middle Eastern identities are reduced, pitied, fetishized or feared through photographs. Alshaibi will discuss how stereotypical characterizations of Arab/Muslim women continue to be formed through contemporary images, especially for Western audiences.


Sama Alshaibi’s artwork explores spaces of conflict and the power struggles that arise in the aftermath of war and exile. Drawing from her experiences as a Palestinian-Iraqi refugee, and now naturalized US citizen, she uses her body as an allegorical site that makes the byproducts of such struggles visible. Alshaibi’s monograph, “Sand Rushes In” (New York: Aperture, 2015) probes the human dimensions of migration, borders, and environmental demise. Alshaibi’s exhibitions includes the 55th Venice Biennale, MoMA (NY), Honolulu Biennial 2017, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (AZ), Marta Herford Museum (Germany), Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art (NY), Bronx Museum (NY), Headlands Center for the Arts (California), Maraya Art Center (UAE), Ayyam Gallery (UK/UAE), Busan Museum of Art (South Korea), Institut Du Monde Arabe (Paris) and the Thessaloniki International Film Festival (Greece). Sama Alshaibi is Co-Chair and Professor of Photography, Video and Imaging at University of Arizona.