Photography and photographic representation has played an instrumental role in shaping social and cultural transformations in Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan over the past hundred years. This panel explores the historic and contemporary salience of photography in these regions.
Making, viewing and experiencing photography in and in relation to Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan has a salient history and notable contemporary presence. It has taken a variety of vernacular / non - vernacular forms in a multitude of places, both physical and experiential, at amateur and professional levels. From late nineteenth century analogue uses to present - day digital collections and academic ethno - photography / photo - ethnography, the significance of photography in visual understandings of cultures in these regions warrants timely anthropological enquiry and reflection. What does photography in and of the cultures of these countries tell us of ideologically constructed visual tropes, processes of nation - building, modernisation and cultural heritage as well as the local / global politics of representation? How do subjective photographic praxes continue to shape and reflect evolving epistemologies and ontologies? This panel considers these questions in light of the historical relationship between 'local' photographic practices and 'global' (plat)forms of societal engagement, reflection and transformation. It looks at the production of photographs at amateur and professional levels in a variety of spaces where photographs are shown, viewed, circulated and experienced by members of a given culture and or the anthropologist/artist. The papers relay ethnographic understandings of how social, political and religious imaginaries are constructed, contested and or captured in different exhibitionary and representational contexts. Their discussions move between the tangible and the experiential in relation to photographic collections, digital archives, subjective field - work encounters and social media.