Haunting the Streets of Cairo

Visual Habits of the Biblical Imaginary in Nineteenth-Century Holy Land Photography


  • Rachel McBride Lindsey Washington University in St. Louis




Photography, Visual Culture, Biblical Imagination


This article examines connections between visual habits of American imperialism, photographic technology, and biblical imagination in the last decade of the nineteenth century. The author argues that visual habits of optical elision, or the learned technique of not-seeing photographic contemporaries in order to see instead photographic evidence of a biblical past, linked modes of biblical interpretation with forms of American imperialism. She also contends that halftone print technology introduced considerations of the relationship between images and text, providing silhouettes of theological developments at the end of the century that differentiate photography from prior modes of illustration.

Author Biography

Rachel McBride Lindsey, Washington University in St. Louis

Associate Director, John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics


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Davis, George R. 1893. “Introduction.” The World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893. Trumbull White and William Iglehart. Boston: John K. Hastings.

Heyl, John Vincent, James W. Lee, and Robert E.M. Bain. 1895. Earthly Footsteps of the Man of Galilee. St. Louis: Thompson Publishing Company.

Ives, Halsey C. 1893. The Dream City: A Portfolio of Photographic Views of the World’s Columbian Exposition. St. Louis: N. D. Thompson Publishing Co.

Jacobson, Matthew Frye. 2000. Barbarian Virtues: The United States Encounters Foreign Peoples at Home and Abroad, 1876-1917. New York: Hill and Wang.

Lee, James. 1896. “Introduction.” Self-Interpreting Bible, 4 vols. New York: R. S. Peal and J.A. Hill.

Marien, Mary Warner. 2006. Photography: A Cultural History. 2nd ed. London: Lawrence King Publishing.

Rydell, Robert. 1987. All the World’s a Fair: Visions of Empire at American International Expositions, 1876-1916. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

Schmidt, Leigh Eric. 2010. Heaven’s Bride: The Unprintable Life of Ida C. Craddock, American Mystic, Scholar, Sexologist, Martyr, and Madwoman. New York: Basic Books.



How to Cite

Lindsey, R. (2014). Haunting the Streets of Cairo: Visual Habits of the Biblical Imaginary in Nineteenth-Century Holy Land Photography. Bulletin for the Study of Religion, 43(2), 4–11. https://doi.org/10.1558/bsor.v43i2.4




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