The 2011 World Press Photo: A study of a modern-day Hagar in Yemen through the prism of collective memory in Islam | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 6, Issue 2-3
  • ISSN: 1751-9411
  • E-ISSN: 1751-942X



This project offers historical and visual rhetorical analyses of the 2011 World Press Photo, arguing the award-winning image echoes one of the most central collective memories within Islam: that of Hagar, the mother of all Arabs. The article posits that the woman in the photo is the modern-day Hagar who exemplifies strength, courage and independence, much like her predecessor millennia ago. In that, the woman, as captured in the winning image, creates a countermemory to the dominant collective memory of a Muslim woman in Yemen, who has emerged over the years as dominated by men and in need of protection. The analysis puts the 2011 World Press Photo within the Islam-centric context of interpretation, suggesting that looking at it only through the Christian-centred perspective, as was done in the West, robs the image of its polysemic qualities.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): Arab women; collective memory; photography; slam; Yemen
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