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VIDEO DOI: https://doi.org/10.48448/9192-kv40

technical paper

AAA Annual Meeting 2021

November 18, 2021

Baltimore, United States

Temporal engagements with images of violence from Egypt and Syria - on urgency, pensiveness and orientations towards the future





The past decade witnessed historic uprisings against Middle Eastern dictatorships. The violence that followed has been visually documented to an unprecedented extent. In this talk, I will draw on previous and ongoing ethnographic fieldworks with Egyptian and Syrian activists, photographers, journalists and archivists as well as NGO-workers, who have all contributed to the documentation, sharing and preservation of images of often state-sanctioned violence over the past decade in the two countries. At the time of documentation, many of these images were urgent. During the early years and months of street protests and clashes, images would be shared promptly, encouraging people to join ongoing protests and battles and demanding political responses. Protests in Egyptian and Syrian streets have largely been eradicated by a restoration of military dictatorship (in the case of Egypt) and a prolonged war with international involvement (in the case of Syria). Meanwhile the urgency of the present shifted towards temporal orientations towards the future and the past through archiving, making these images available for justice processes and collective memory-making. In this talk, I propose that examining the temporality of images, not only through their immediate or most prominent uses, but also through later re-uses, re-circulations and re-significations, will allow us to move beyond understandings of images as political, emotional or aesthetic. I thus seek to illuminate the social life of images by exploring how images engage both urgently and latently in the present, how they reach into the past and how they enable orientations towards the future.


Transcript English (automatic)

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