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Talk: Exploring the Photographic Heritage of Jews and Armenians in Framing Genocide

London
26/11/2015
Culture

Illustrated talk by Professor Michael Berkowitz University College London The fact that Armenians were overwhelmingly the professional photographers of the Ottoman Empire, and Jews were disproportionately engaged in photography in Eastern, Central, and Western Europe, is beginning to challenge prevailing discourses on the Armenian genocide and the Holocaust. Because Armenians and Jews were tremendously overrepresented in the photographic industry, the quantity and quality of photographs in which they were involved has left an unusual and substantial body of evidence, and a creative legacy that is now being explored by scholars. This has been achieved brilliantly, in the case of Dildilian family of photographers, by Armen Marsoobian. To date, a great deal of attention has been focused on Jews as Holocaust victims. Yet few scholars recognise what can be learned about the Holocaust, and relatedly, the Armenian genocide–and the lives of Jews and Armenians before, during, and after genocide–from considering that both Jews and Armenians were more steeped in photography than their surrounding population, and that this has had profound consequences for history and memory. Photo credit: Unidentified photographer, [Menahem Mendel Berk and family in Pasusvys, Lithuania], 1909. Gelatin silver print. Private collection.