Photography and its production, dissemination and reception is a contested terrain in the scholarship of arts during the Mandate Era. Instead of juxtaposing different “national” viewpoints, the article adopts the perspective of an ostensible outsider, the American Colony photographer, Eric Matson. Matson’s photographic angle on the realities of the Mandate captured local and global imaginations, and his imperial gaze has much to teach about local political dynamics in an increasingly sectarian space. The article explores his relationship with local inhabitants and international news agents, and the ways in which his status as a creator and agent of images influenced his photographic perspectives. It suggests that despite Matson’s close access to the transformations and actors in his surroundings, his ability to engage with them declined over the years. Ultimately his loyalties would be with the international audiences who shaped his decision to perpetuate imperial views. Matson’s photography, in its internationalist aspirations and imperial character, illuminates the relationship between the networks of global news communication and the imperial infrastructure that shaped them. His story, thus, reveals an unacknowledged vantage point on the tensions between local national movements and global influences in the Middle East. Finally, the article probes the global historical nature of local photographic production and its importance in scholarship on the Mandate Period.


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pp. 158-178
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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