Violent Virtuosity: Visual Labor in West Africa’s Mano River War

In this essay, I argue that the Mano River War should be understood as a conflict to which the ubiquitous presence of digital media was crucial. This was a war structured by the economy of attention. To profit in this economy, combatants and non-combatants were required to play to an audience that they knew was there, but often could only sense or apprehend in the most abstract way. The realities of constantly being available to be seen were crucial to understanding the spectacular performance of violence in this conflict.