Among the visual media, photography is one of the most powerful means of representation because of its immediacy and its supposed objectivity: photography has been popularly accepted as an accurate reflection of what is real. Contemporary thinkers, however, are questioning these assumptions, looking at the vocabulary of possession and aggression photographers use in "taking" a picture-"load," "aim," "shoot"-and investigating the implications of such vocabulary especially on Western notions of non-Western cultures. Some of today's most prominent French writers, acutely aware of this crisis of representation and suspicion of the image, have used photography in their fiction to examine the problematic issues of identity, marginality, alienation, and exile in contemporary France and postcolonial North Africa. Picturing the Maghreb is a unique project that investigates how North Africans have been represented in photographs and portrayed in literary texts. Probing a variety of images-colonial and contemporary, negative and positive, demonizing and idealizing, French and North African-Mary B. Vogl displays the enormous power photography and writing have to stereotype and essentialize.
In this singular and significant contribution to cultural studies, she explores the possibilities for nonexploitative cross-cultural discourse in a globalized world.
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield