Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts in Art History and Visual Culture



First Advisor

Jeanette Nicewinter

Second Advisor

Mysoon Rizk

Third Advisor

Esperanca Camara


This research focuses on a study of the photographic works of two contemporary female photographers from the MENA region: Alia Ali and Safaa Mazirh. Rather than trying to define art in the region and its diasporas, this research stresses the distinctiveness of two artists' specific experiences in relation to gender, religion, tradition, and modernity. A common thread is the constant navigation between the artists’ lived experiences of their postcolonial reality and collective memories of the colonial past. When comparing these artists, I argue that viewing their works in conjunction highlights the principle of “the right to opacity” as discussed by the French post-colonialist thinker Edouard Glissant and makes way for what I am calling “the right to transparency.” The original contribution that this thesis makes is to use these theoretical ideas as a lens to interpret and understand the work of these two photographers. Glissant believed that the West had a fixation on a method of understanding the other based on making them transparent. In turn, we reduce and classify others against the existing dominant structures of worth we have formed of them. Female artists like Alia Ali from the MENA region are working against these existing dominant structures of worth by creating opacities in their work. Alternatively, Safaa Mazirh, is working against an opaque historical record of her culture and its practices. She welcomes transparency in her work of her body and the language of the Amazigh symbols.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License