Death photography in Turkey in the late 1800s and early 1900s: defining an area of study
Early Popular Visual Culture
322 - 341
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Since its invention, photography has been associated with the personal past. Although photographs seem to bring back memories and the past, by visually representing the inevitable passing of time, they also serve as melancholic objects of loss that remind us of our mortality. The critical literature has frequently associated photography with death. Yet when the image includes a dead body, the focus of discussion alters. Post-mortem photography was a popular visual tradition in nineteenth-century North America and Western Europe, photographs of the deceased being taken as expressions of grief. However, in the history of photography in Turkey, a Muslim-majority country, post-mortem photographs are rarely mentioned. This article delves into photography archives and collections in Turkey, which constitute an unmapped and obscure territory. It attempts to discover and discuss various death-related photographs in Turkey that can be compared to the Victorian post-mortem photography tradition. The article also aims to expand the parameters of the discussion on the relationship between different types of photography and mourning, remembering, longing for, and bidding farewell to the dead. Different ways of expressing grief via photography after the death of a loved one and the way death is constructed in front of the camera to express mourning and longing are among the main topics of discussion. © 2013 Taylor & Francis.