Photography and the Real: The Biblical Gaze and the Professional Album in the Holy Land

  • Simon Goldhill
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture book series (PNWC)


Despite what we say when we walk into a shop, we are never just looking. All viewing is a theory-laden and history-laden activity.1 Our eyes are trained and layered with a history of images, of ideas, of ideology. Both seeing and being seen are framed by this social and intellectual placement: ‘how you look’, in English, can be transitive or intransitive. How you look can mean the activity of staring, glancing, squinting, stereotyping; or it can mean how you appear to others, ‘how do I look?’, your role as an image for others to see, how you present yourself, in terms of dress and deportment, class and nationality. Seeing oneself being seen is an integral part of the regime of the visual, an integral part of how seeing becomes a performance, a performance through which identity is enacted. The tourist abroad constitutes a particularly charged moment in this drama of the gaze: the tourist is caught between the self-consciousness of self-presentation —how one dresses, stands, stands out, culturally, nationally —and the self-conscious viewing of the other.


Middle East Visual Regime Charged Moment Holy City Photographic Medium 
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Notes and references

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© Simon Goldhill 2016

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