The caption of this photograph at The Guardian says only, “Nowruz celebrations in Afghanistan.” Nowruz is the name of the Iranian New Year, which is celebrated in a number of countries by people of several faiths. The baskets of dried fruits eaten during the holiday provide the only visual connection to the colorful festivities, and you have to know more than the paper tells you to see that. For many viewers, this will a thoroughly conventional image of the Middle East.
How do you view a photograph when the ethnicity represented is the context? How do you view a photograph when the ethnicity is unexpected? For instance, if you were told that this photograph was taken in Des Moines Iowa, or if you were shown a photo of people putting chicken skewers on the barbie and told it was from Iran?
Read this interesting piece by Robert Hariman on “The Street, A Park, and the Unseen Middle East.”