Research seminar: Enemies, subalterns and cosmopolitan relationalities: Video Activism in Syria – University of Copenhagen

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Research seminar: Enemies, subalterns and cosmopolitan relationalities: Video Activism in Syria

CRIC invites to the research seminar “Enemies, subalterns and cosmopolitan relationalities: Video Activism in Syria” with PhD Joshka Wessels, CRIC partner and Post Doc at University of Copenhagen.

The research seminar will revolve around Joshka Wessels' paper on video activism in Syria.

Please register at no later than Wednesday March 18th, 2015. The paper will be sent to you when you have registered.

Since 2011, thousands of Syrian protesters took up their mobile phones to record the events taking place in front of their eyes, many recorded street demonstrations, funerals, but also recordings of the brutality of the security forces, armed battles, bombings and other atrocities were deposited as digital memories in countless videos that were uploaded on YouTube by different groups in the conflict. This audiovisual archive contains amateur footage as well as semi-professional and professional material. Amateur mobile phone footage is based on unedited and uninterrupted one-shot sequences, whilst the other material is edited and exhibits sequentiality. With sequentiality comes subjectivity, which allows the video maker to take a political space, construct his or her vision and take position. Some videos can be seen as testimonies of individual experiences of war, almost like post-modern Wilfred Owen poems, or give audiovisual evidence of war crimes committed and in other instances, edited clips can give us insight in how patriotic, religious or nationalistic narratives and identities are expressed, enemy framings are constructed, and how military action and violence by some actors is seen as justifiable. This paper maps many different violent and non-violent actors involved in the Syrian war through analysing their uploaded YouTube videos and in particular non-violent grassroot video activists in Aleppo and Raqqa provinces. What are their motivations, their visions for the future and how do they see their own role in a future for Syria? As part of an ongoing postdoctoral research, during which an overall typography of Syrian You Tube clips is developed, this paper provides a focus on young Syrian video activists and their grassroot video work in Aleppo and Raqqa provinces. The research methodology is based on on-line observation of You Tube clips, original semi-structured interviews with video activists and filmmakers and field visits to Gaziantep in Turkey and Aleppo province in Syria, where the author also filmed her own experiences. This paper describes life-stories of grassroot Syrian video activists and places the group within the spectrum of the many different actors currently operating inside Syria. By describing visions and voices of grassroot video activists, this empirical paper aims to contribute to a nuanced and in-depth analysis of the Syrian war and its many different actors on the ground.

About research seminars
The research seminar is a forum for academic debate, organized around the paper and is conducted on the assumption that the paper has been read by participants.

Time and place
The seminar will be held in CRIC’s meeting room (25.0.01), Øster Farimagsgade 5, 1353 Copenhagen K, March 23rd, 2015 from 13.30 to 15.00.