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Books: Malek Alloula - The Colonial Harem

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Malek Alloula
The Colonial Harem

Séguir, Paris 2001

137 pages, 90 large format b&w images
English language

(original French edition:
Le Harem Colonial - images d'un sous érotisme
( orig. English edition: The Colonial Harem
University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis 1986)


This widely known and cited publication of Malek Alloula is a fundamental critic of colonial photography and the widespread use on postcards (colonial postcards).

Alloula's main thesis is, that the photographs taken by French and European photographers in the North African states, especially Algeria, in late 19th and early 20th century, were a projection of the colonizers fantasies, creating an Oriental mystery and serving as an intentional means of showing domination and superiority over the indigenous people of the colonies. This basically by showing Algerian women unveiled and partly nude; and by displaying Algerian prostitutes, who served as models for the photographers, as the common Algerian woman, therefore creating a distorted Western view of the Orient.



Malek Alloula - The Colonial Harem


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