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Personal wartime photography in Egypt, 1898—1918
Historians of the First World War have recently turned their attention to ‘personal photography’: the taking of photographs with privately owned portable cameras, and the disposal of the resulting prints in personal photograph albums or collections. The paper will contest the notion that this wartime phenomenon was without precedent by comparing First World War practice in Egypt with the way early portable cameras had been employed by British officers participating in the 1898 campaign to defeat a jihadist uprising in Sudan.
The paper will examine how privately owned portable cameras were used in the Sudan, and trace the public afterlife of photographs returned to Britain. It will then turn to the personal photography of members of the Royal Flying Corps based in Egypt during the First World War. It will explore the impact of the proliferation of camera use to include soldiers of all ranks, not least the potential to present life on active service from new social perspectives.
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