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The Orientalist archive of Palestine is a stolen archive. Innumerable images of the visual geographies of indigenous peoples are recast into a vision where only the colonizer sees and, if she even exists, the colonized is only to be seen. This is no more apparent than in Palestine. This Orientalist vision is coded by the overarching Holy Land narrative that is entwined with the creation of Zionism itself. Orientalism stole the visual landscape of Palestine long  before the Zionists. This indexical theft then is related epistemologically to 1948. This presentation will chose one image, generically titled “Moslems Sheikhs and Effendis.” The image however is that of the Khalid Library in Jerusalem. We will see in excavating and re-appropriating this photograph that the theft of the photographic index is the colonial condition of photography, which deterritorializes the index. This is a condition of colonialism itself, which involves not only an expropriation of land but of visual indices, geographies and histories. If the Orientalist archive is one of extraction, as Ariella Azoulay shows us, one that produces meaning and capital for the colonial empire, we also find this image in Palestine. In unpacking the American Colony image of the Khalidi Library, we will learn of the journeys this images has taken in Europe and in the United States. But also, we will re-matatriate the image to Palestine, through the photography albums of Wasif Jawhariyeh. In this self-generated archive, that he called the “Illustrated History of Palestine,” we will see the reanimation of this Khalidi Library, its social history and the social relations it holds.
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