For the final post of my Egyptian adventure, I wanted to share with you some photographs not of my own taking, but vernacular photographs of people and scenes from the past, that I unearthed on my last day in Cairo at the famous Khan el-Khalili Market.
This souk dates back to 1382.
Imagine the buyers and sellers and treasures that have changed hands in its twisting alleyways and assorted shops.
Today, so many of the stalls sell the same souvenirs and products, much of it sadly made in China. Looking for some piece of authentic Egypt to take back with me, I found a few vendors who had paper ephemera and photographs stashed away in the bottom of a bookcase. The price they were asking was surprisingly precious for a handful of these vernacular shots, but finally I found one seller willing to bargain with me, and I couldn't pass up this opportunity for the blog!
I love the kids all dressed up, and the color hand-tinted pose. The men in their fez evoke a Naguib Mahfouz novel.
And the final image feels like a tabula rosa onto which we could project almost any meaning, from familiarity to fear.
Almost a Rorschach test to challenge the stereotypes and preconceptions that we inevitably bring into any conversation today about US-Muslim relations, which was the starting point of my journey to Egypt for this conference.
Vernacular photos are invitations to the imagination. What do you see?