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Picturing the World

English title Picturing the World
Applicant Staszak Jean-François
Number 139903
Funding scheme Agora
Research institution Département de géographie et environnement Université de Genève
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Social geography and ecology
Start/End 01.02.2012 - 30.09.2013
Approved amount 24'330.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Social geography and ecology
General history (without pre-and early history)

Keywords (6)

postcolonial; photography; exoticization; geographic imaginaries; tourism; visual economy

Lay Summary (French)

Lay summary

Le projet Picturing the World vise à communiquer au grand public, à travers une exposition, les résultats du projet de recherche financé par le FNS Images exotiques du monde.

Cette exposition sera construite à partir de la collection photographique d’Alfred Bertrand (1856-1924), grand voyageur genevois. Elle se tiendra à Genève en 2013 dans le Parc Bertrand, ancienne propriété du collectionneur.

L’exposition présentera des photographies commerciales produites pour les touristes à la fin du XIXe siècle. Ancêtres de nos cartes postales, ces photographies permettront aux visiteurs de comprendre comment les Européens de la fin du XIXe siècle voyaient le monde, mais aussi de réfléchir à la construction et à la diffusion de stéréotypes.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Photographic History Research Centre Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Musée d'ethnographie de Genève Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Musée de la Vallée (Barcelonnette) France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: radio, television 12:45 le journal RTS Western Switzerland 10.05.2013
Media relations: radio, television Babylone La 1ere Western Switzerland 29.05.2013
Media relations: print media, online media Clichés exotiques. Le tour du monde en photographie Totem Western Switzerland 22.04.2013
Talks/events/exhibitions Clichés exotiques. Le tour du monde en photographies (1860-1890) Western Switzerland 02.05.2013
Media relations: print media, online media Epreuves exotiques Dorade Western Switzerland 13.05.2013
Media relations: radio, television Le journal de la culture Léman bleu Western Switzerland 27.05.2013
Media relations: print media, online media Le parc Bertrand accueille le tour du monde en photographies Vivre à Genève Western Switzerland 22.04.2013
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) site web de l'exposition Western Switzerland 02.05.2013
Other activities Visites guidées de l'exposition Western Switzerland 04.08.2013

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
126985 IMAGES EXOTIQUES DU MONDE. Les photographies d'Alfred Bertrand et Fred Boissonnas : regards genevois sur l'ailleurs (1880-1930) 01.10.2009 Project funding


This project is about the forerunner of the postcard: the photographs taken by professional studios at the end of the nineteenth century and sold to travelers at tourist destinations across the world. The photographs are revelatory, telling us about the construction and the content of Western geographic imaginaries at a key moment in their formation. Foremost, they reveal processes of exoticization.In 2009, the FNRS agreed to support a research program on a collection of 1700 photographs of this type, bequeathed by a prominent Swiss traveler, Alfred Bertrand (1856-1924), to the Museum of Ethnography of Geneva. Our research team has thus been able to assemble a database of this corpus and undertake its systematic analysis.This current project aims to communicate to a wider public our principle results. It involves, all at once, presenting a representative sample of these images, facilitating their interpretation, and explaining the visual economy that presides in their production and consumption. The project will demonstrate how these early commercial photographs played an essential role in the construction of Western geographic and tourist imaginaries. Until now, this genre of photograph has not been the subject of any book or any exhibition. Our project consists of two parts: a popular and attractive book about these images of the globe, and an exhibition in Alfred Bertrand Park (Parc Betrand, bequeathed by him to the city of Geneva). The book, though directed and accessible to a wide public, has the ambition nonetheless to be the work of reference on this type of photography. The exhibition has similar goals, but also aims to present the visual patrimony of Geneva to the inhabitants of the city, and to initiate reflection on the insertion of Switzerland in colonial culture.Interesting the public in these kinds of images should prove relatively easy. The ongoing appeal of old photographs and exotic images leads us to think that these photographs from around the world, sold massively at the end of the 19th century, still hold considerable power to seduce. A significant approach in our effort to communicate and interpret the photographs will be to play with this seduction, by staging the images in a way that provokes reflection on their attractiveness, as well as their potential for negative impacts.