University of Leiden, Leiden, Holland

Research School of Asian, African, and Amerindian Studies (CNWS)

Qajar Photography Conference



Visual sources for the interpretation of Iranian Qajar history

Date: 17-18 May, 2001

Place: Leiden University, The Netherlands

Photography offers an eminently suitable approach to the study of how people used to see, and still see, the world around them. Taking photographs is not merely the recording of objects and situations; it also shows the photographer's special interests and those of his audience and customers. Photographs tell what was regarded as special or typical. In other words, they reflect upon the objects photographed, and upon the photographer and his clients.

The present conference will focus on the image of Iran as created in nineteenth and early twentieth century photographs. During this time Western and Iranian photographers were fed by, and contributed to an ambivalent image of Iran, stressing on the one hand its traditional life (often in the Orientalist tradition), and on the other hand indicating aspects which were regarded as ‘modern’ and ‘European’.

Structure of the conference

The first day of the conference (Images of Iran by Western photographers) will focus on Iran through Western eyes, while the second day (Reflection) will be devoted to the image of the country through Iranian eyes. The end of the second day will be used for a guided tour of an exhibition on nineteenth century and early twentieth century Iran (showing both photographs and other objects) that will be organized especially for the conference, and which will be shown in the Prentenkabinet, Leiden. Speakers from America, Europe and Iran will present papers.


The congress is held in room 028 of the Centraal Faciliteitengebouw (Central Facilities), of the Witte Singel/Doelen complex, Cleveringaplaats 1, Leiden. This building is located some five minutes walk from the Rapenburg, and some fifteen minutes from the railway station.  


Provisional Programme

Thursday 17 May  

09.00 Coffee; registration
09.30 Opening: Mr. L. Barjesteh; Prof. J.G.L. ter Haar and Dr. W.J. Vogelsang  
09.45 Soltan Ali Mirza Kadjar: The Qajar Era: An Historical Perspective. See abstract.
10.00 Dr. Ali Behdad: Orientalism, Self-Exoticism, and the Oriental Despot: Nasir ud-Din Shah. See abstract.  
10.45 Prof. F. Bohrer: Photographic Hybridities: Sevruguin, Iran, and the West. See abstract.
11.30 Coffee, tea
11.50 Dr. Layla S. Diba: New Resources for Qajar Era Photography  
12.35 Lunch; Doelensteeg 16, cafeteria on third floor
14.00 Ms. Corien Vuurman: Images of Iran in Dutch photographic collections: An analysis. See abstract.
14.45 Mr. Cyrus Samii: Illusory Promises: Iranian Cities as Portrayed in  Western Travelogues in the Late Qajar and Early Pahlavi Periods. See abstract.
15.30 Tea
15.50 Mr. Bahman Bayani: A Data Base of Qajar Period Portrait Photographs
16.10 Dr. G.M. Vogelsang-Eastwood: The Qajar Era Dress Project. See abstract.
16.35 Dr. Manoutchehr M. Eskandari-Qajar, The International Qajar Studies Association: Aims and Purposes.See abstract.
19.00 Buffet. Location: Centraal Faciliteitengebouw (Central Facilities); Witte Singel/Doelencomplex

Friday, 18 May

09.00 Coffee
09.30 Mr. Mohamad Reza Tahmasbpour: The Pictorial Reports in the Reign of Nasir ud-Din Shah Qajar. See abstract.
10.15 Dr. Alireza Mashayekh: A Comparison Between Abdullah Qajar and Sevruguin Photography   
11.00 Coffee, tea
11.20 Dr. Reza Sheikh: Heroes, Villains and Aspirations: The Portrait Photograph within Public Visual Space in Qajar Iran (1905-1925). See abstract.
12.05 Lunch 
13.45 Ms. Parisa Damandan: Qajar Isfahan (film). See abstract.
14.30 Mr. R. Jackson Armstrong-Ingram: Women in Late Qajar Urban Society: The View From the Lens. See abstract.
15.15 Tea
15.35 Dr. H. de Herder: The Ermakov Project and Conservation and Restoration of 19th Century Photographs. See abstract.
16.25 Concluding Remarks
16.45 Reception and visit of exhibition of 19th century photographs of Iran in Dutch collections, in the Prentenkabinet, Rapenburg 65. Speakers: Prof. dr. C.J.M. Zijlmans and Ms. C. Vuurman.  



The conference is jointly set up by the following organisations:




The conference is financially made possible by the: 

Conference costs

Participants to the conference pay a conference fee of Fl. 200 ($85). They also organize their own lodging, although the organization will provide suitable addresses. The entrance fee includes a lunch on Thursday afternoon, a buffet on Thursday night, and a reception on Friday afternoon. 

Students receive a reduction and pay Fl. 100 ($45) for the full programme. 

Students and Leiden University staff who only want to attend the lectures (and not the buffet and lunch) should also register, but pay no fees.

Members of the Qajar Studies Association receive a reduction of 20%.


Registration at the address listed below should, if necessary, be accompanied by a bank cheque to the necessary amount in US dollars or Dutch guilders, including Fl. 15 or $7 for bank charges per cheque, and made out to the Research School CNWS, Universiteit Leiden, PO Box 9515, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands, with reference to “Qajar Conference”. You may also register by e-mail and send a cheque by separate post. Please bear in mind that you will only be added to the list of participants when your cheque has arrived.

You may also pay by transferring the fees to the following bank account:

You may also pay by credit card (VISA only): For VISA payments, please provide us with the card number, the name of the card holder, and the expiry date.

Registration should be addressed to:

Dr. W.J. Vogelsang, Research School CNWS, Universiteit Leiden, PO Box 9515, 2300 RA  Leiden, The Netherlands.

Tel. +31 (0)71 5272171

Fax. +31 (0)71 5272939

For further information on the conference, consult this web-page, which will be regularly updated, or contact directly