Deborah A. Thomas (Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania) and Rebecca L. Stein (Cultural Anthropology, Duke University) offer two presentations and a conversation on work spanning geographic and theoretical contexts.
Scholars have long remarked on the importance of visual culture in relation to events understood as humanitarian crises. The visual can create an intimacy within crisis that generates response and moral feelings among viewers. In other contexts, such as among African diasporic populations, the visual has been used to pathologize or surveil, even as it has also documented history and struggles. How might we approach visual archives as a form of witnessing designed to offer counter-narratives to state violence? How could we think about visual archives as a form of repair?
Deborah A. Thomas is the R. Jean Brownlee Term Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Exceptional Violence: Embodied Citizenship in Transnational Jamaica and Modern Blackness: Nationalism, Globalization, and The Politics of Culture in Jamaica. Thomas directed and produced the documentary film Bad Friday: Rastafari after Coral Gardens and is currently collaborating on Four Days in May, a multi-media project about the events in Tivoli Gardens in May 2010.
In the age of the smartphone camera, all players in Israel’s military occupation carry digital photographic devices—Palestinian civilians and activists, Israeli and international human rights workers, the Israeli security services. All employ them to articulate their competing political claims. The violence of Israel’s occupation has never been more visible, never shot by so many cameras and never circulated and consumed with such speed. Yet within mainstream Jewish Israeli society, there has never been less interest in contending with such images—namely, images of Israeli military perpetrators and Palestinian victims. Rebecca L. Stein explores this conundrum.
Rebecca L. Stein is the Nicholas J. and Theresa M. Leonardy Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University. She is the author, with Adi Kuntsman, of Digital Militarism: Israel's Occupation in the Social Media Age and Itineraries in Conflict: Israelis, Palestinians, and the Political Lives of Tourism. Stein is the co-editor, with Ted Swedenburg, of Palestine, Israel, and the Politics of Popular >Culture