Research seminar: "Politics of the image; publics, locations and relations with international media"

CRIC has the pleasure of inviting you to the research seminar "Politics of the image; publics, locations and relations with international media" with CRIC post.doc Joshka Wessels, Monday 20th June 1.30 - 3 pm

Readings and registration

The readings will be distributed prior to the seminar. If you wish to attend, please contact Jacob Jensen on

Abstract: We see amateur mobile footage from a bomb attack in Paris or Brussels and it is not usual that western news broadcast networks say they can't "verify this
footage", the audience immediately understands why people flee the bomb site,
shocked by the news images. We see amateur digital video footage from Syria, the
international news networks repeatedly state they can't "verify this footage"
and the public wonders why Syrians are fleeing, it is often too complex and far
from them, "unverified" so it could be "fake". This chapter is concerned with
the role of Syrian video activism in international news media and how Syrian
video activism between 2011 and 2015, transformed into professionalism within a
murky field of international media visibility and image politics, where
audiences outside a conflict zone have become armchair spectators of the deep
misery of others. Considering the experiences of Syrian video activists,
operating within a highly mediated political media landscape, the author
reflects on the ambiguous relationship between Syrian video activists and the
international news media industry applying a postcolonial analysis within the
context of a political economy of coverage of the war in Syria. Why does some
UGC produced by Syrian video activists gain international media attention and
other footage not? How is this content presented? Is commercial spectatorship
more important for international media professionals than for Syrian video
activists ? Is there something at play at a deeper cognitive-emotional level
related to grievability and selective empathy? The chapter argues that the main
motivation to for Syrian activists to film was not about commercial
spectatorship, whilst the international news media reporting and covering the
Syrian war is more determined by their publics and strategic politics. Also
different definitions exists on what story is “newsworthy” and “good journalism”
and where locations of reporting matter for balancing the story. Finally, the
chapter concludes with a comparative theoretical reflection how these Syrian UGC
YouTube videos can be seen as contemporary examples of Dziga Vertov’s “Man
with a movie Camera
” lining the camera with the people, documenting
fledgling revolutionary dreams that have transformed into audiovisual anti-war
poems in the sense of Wilfred Owen’s famous ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’
documenting the nightmarish experiences of conflict and war. 

About research seminars at CRIC

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.