Image Activism After the Arab Uprisings| The “Image-as-Forensic-Evidence” Economy in the Post-2011 Syrian Conflict: The Power and Constraints of Contemporary Practices of Video Activism

Kari Anden-Papadopoulos


My study brings a practice perspective to the study of video activism, specifically seeking to bridge a focus on activist agency with attention to structure. Hence, it provides a critical lens on new economies of image developing in relation to the post-2011 Syrian conflict, to theorize both the agency—the practices, aspirations, and need—of local Syrian videographers and how it is challenged and restricted by structure: that is, the dynamics of ruling perpetrated both by commercial platforms (particularly YouTube), that are now stepping up censorship of video, and by the international justice movement, that is now rushing to harness the probative power of online eyewitness video for grave crimes investigations and prosecutions. Based on semi-structured interviews with four key actors in the international justice movement and 15 Syrian videographers, the study advances our conception of the potentials and challenges of digital camera-practices for civic agency and activism within a contested global media space of ever-increasing exploitation, commodification, and censorship.


video activism, YouTube, human rights, Syria, media practice, memory, digital forensics

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