Franz Rosenzweig Minerva Research Center / The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
E-Mail: rebekka.grossmann [at] mail.huji.ac.il
Foto: Jesse Meria
Unsettled Cameras. Mobility and Nation in Modern Jewish History
In the twilight years of the Weimar Republic German-Jewish photographers were among the first to feel the perils of racialized exclusion and persecution. As a response to increasing right-wing threats several photographers turned to overseas travel as a space of professional and personal freedom and development. As such they would be among the pioneers of new approaches to travel photography, shaped by new photographic techniques and photojournalism.
As part of my time at the ZZF, I explore the works of photographers traveling through countries in Asia and Africa. The goal of the project is to expand our understanding of a travel photography influenced by displacement and transit. It argues that the experience of exclusion influenced the photographers’ views in a way that had them coin Western ways of seeing anti-colonial contexts for decades to come. Their photography not only offered a medium that necessitated and encouraged close encounters. Their cameras also presented objects of cultural barter offering a ‘currency’ of visibility to their local interlocutors. Finally, their work endowed them with knowledge about contexts that were still largely unknown to audiences in the West. As such their perspectives granted them the agency of experts which would shape their role and standing as international journalists. This investigation is part of a larger project on Jewish migration and photography. It offers new access points to the German-Jewish history of forced travel, the history of interethnic encounters as well as new approaches to connections between nationalism and anti-colonialism.