The Colonial Photography of Central Asia (1865-1923)
The article focuses on the photographic history of the Russian conquest in Islamic Turkestan (Turkestan Government-General) at the rise of international Orientalism. It is a rethinking of the cultural origins, history and significance of this major Islamic region under the Russian rule, and one of her greatest colonies at the time. Through photography it explores why and how the government of the Tsarist Russia led the heartland of Central Asia economically, scientifically, and artistically for six decades despite the relentless invasions, rebels, military campaigns and corruption. Placing the region within a world cultural framework at the rapid development of photography, this article hopes to provide a new understanding of the internal and external dynamics within Central Asia and shows how photography attempted repeatedly to revolutionize this civilization. Moreover, it raises questions about how photography escalated the development of cultural identity in Central Asia between 1860s and 1920s. Featuring the ethnographic and historical photography, some published for the first time, it provides an insight into the works of the late nineteenth-early twentieth century Russian artists next to their (often anonymous) Central Asian counterparts.