1st Edition

Pre-State Photographic Archives and the Zionist Movement

By Rotem Rozental Copyright 2023
    260 Pages 10 Color & 62 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    260 Pages 10 Color & 62 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    By entering and critically re-activating the Zionist photographic archive established by the Division of Journalism and Propaganda of the Jewish National Fund, this research examines its rippling impact on civil landscapes prior to 1948 in Palestine, and its lasting impact on the region to date.

    This study argues that the Zionist movement makes particular use of the machinery of the photographic archive, aiming to constitute the boundaries of Palestine as a Jewish state, claiming ownership over the land and announcing internationally the success of its enterprise, thus substantiating the image it sought to embed as the “reality” of the land. This archive was not stand-alone, as it was functioning in relation to a vast, complicated network of organizational systems and technologies, in the Middle East and across the world. Crucially, this system functioned as a national archive in future tense, for a nation-state that was not yet in existence, seeking to substantiate its regional authority and shape its cultural repository, outlining parameters for inclusion and exclusion from its civic space.

    The book will be of interest to scholars working in art history, photography history, visual culture, Jewish studies, Israel studies and Middle East studies.

    Introduction: The Guards and the Archons


    Part 1. Photography in the “Holy Land” Before Zionism: Biblical Landscapes in Modernity

    Chapter 1. In and Out of the East: Travelers, Believers and Contested Truths

    Chapter 2. Local Migration and the Jewish Settlement: Zionist Orientalism and Visual Economies


    Part 2. Between Body and Land: The Archival Machinery of the Jewish National Fund

    Chapter 3. “Property of the People”: Diasporic Bodies, Race and Land in Early Zionist Culture 

    Chapter 4: Finding Your Type: Inserting Body and Land into the JNF Photographic Archive 

    Chapter 5. Displaced and Absent Bodies: Marginalization and Exclusion in the Pre-State Archive


    Part 3. Archival Constellations: Private, Institutional and Latent Systems in Palestine and the Jewish World

    Chapter 6. “Air Control”: Hidden Photographic Archives and Colonial Regimes in the Middle East

    Chapter 7. “A Voice from the Greek Diaspora” Haim Shmuel Mizrahi and Inscriptions of a Desired Land  

    7.1. “Even People Were Hard to Find!”: Picture Postcards and the Photographic Industry in Palestine, 1920s and Beyond

    Chapter 8. Postscipt: Between New York and Jerusalem: Archives of Diaspora


    Epilogue. The 1948 War and Beyond: the Rise of the National Archive




    Rotem Rozental is a photo-historian, curator, writer and the Executive Director of the LA Center for Photography, Lecturer at University of Southern California and Faculty at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. Between 2016 and 2022, she served as Chief Curator and Senior Director of Arts and Culture at American Jewish University, where she was also the Assistant Dean of the Whizin Center for Continuing Education and the Director of The Institute for Jewish Creativity.

    “[An] important and impressive body of research.”

    -- Israel Studies Review