Accepted Paper:

Visible Bodies for Invisible Eyes: Erotic Qajar Photographs as Hidden Objects of Sexual Desire  
Pedram Khosronejad (Powerhouse Museum)

Paper short abstract:

In this presentation, erotic photographs will be my starting point to trace the origins of sexual photography in Iran under the Qajar dynasty (1860s-1920s).

Paper long abstract:

The first camera probably arrived in Iran only three years after the creation of the first Daguerreotype in France in 1839. Nasser al-Din Shah began his reign on 5th September 1848 when he was seventeen years old, and soon became one of the first ever king photographers of the world. Under his patronage the science of photography and related techniques quickly developed among members of the court and aristocratic families. Obviously this resulted in the creation of royal, private and later public photographic studios all around Iran.

In this presentation, erotic photographs will be my starting point to trace the origins of sexual photography in Iran under the Qajar dynasty. By studying the unique photographs of Nasser al-Din Shah's grandson, Douste Mohamed Khan Moayer, I would like to understand the significance of Qajar pornographic photographs as objects of sexual desire among the royal and aristocratic community. Even if the nude photographs of the Qajar period were designed, produced and perhaps circulated primarily by Iranians to visualise the unseen female body for the sexual satisfaction of the male gaze, I believe it also had strong connections to the development of the country from the perspective of modernisation, and therefore Europeanisation.

Panel P049
Beauty and the Beast: photography, the body and sexual discourse in the Middle East and Central Eurasia