Creating the Witness
Documenting Genocide on Film, Video, and the Internet
Publication Year: 2012
Since the beginning of the conflict in 2003, more than 300,000 lives have been lost in Darfur. Players of the video game Darfur Is Dying learn this sobering fact and more as they work to ensure the survival of a virtual refugee camp. The video game not only puts players in the position of a struggling refugee, it shows them how they can take action in the real world.
Creating the Witness examines the role of film and the Internet in creating virtual witnesses to genocide over the last one hundred years. The book asks, how do visual media work to produce witnesses—audiences who are drawn into action? The argument is a detailed critique of the notion that there is a seamless trajectory from observing an atrocity to acting in order to intervene. According to Leshu Torchin, it is not enough to have a camera; images of genocide require an ideological framework to reinforce the messages the images are meant to convey. Torchin presents wide-ranging examples of witnessing and genocide, including the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust (engaging film as witness in the context of the Nuremburg trials), and the international human rights organization WITNESS and its sustained efforts to use video to publicize human rights advocacy and compel action.
From a historical and comparative approach, Torchin’s broad survey of media and the social practices around it investigates the development of popular understandings of genocide to achieve recognition and response—both political and judicial—ultimately calling on viewers to act on behalf of human rights.
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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...involves many people, and I am grateful for all of them and their input.New York University provided a fruitful starting ground for this book. Tobegin, I must thank Toby Miller and Robert Stam from Cinema Studies.Crucial help came from Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (of PerformanceStudies) and Faye Ginsburg (of Anthropology) whose generosity with their...
Introduction Screen Media and Witnessing Publics
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...translator Silvia Broome (Nicole Kidman) overhears a plot to assassinatethe leader of the fictional African nation of Matobo, her childhood home.In the ensuing investigation, she learns genocide is taking place. At thefilm’s end, she stands before the UN among a group of protestors and dis-closes this information by reading aloud the names of those who have...
1 To Acquaint America with Ravished Armenia
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...in september 1896, The Ram’s Horn, a religious magazine from Chi -cago, published a political cartoon entitled “Tears, Idle Tears!” (Figure 1).The drawing depicts a swarthy Muslim, indicated by the crescent atop histurban, standing over a pale, fallen woman, identified by a nearby banneras Armenia. In his hand, the attacker holds a dagger poised to plunge into...
2 Witness for the Prosecution: Films at Nuremberg
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...visual media technologies—namely, cinema and its contexts of operation,and graphic weekly magazines—with nascent transnational humanitar-ian and human rights concerns. The interests took the form of Near EastRelief and their campaigns and of the articulations of a budding interna-tional political community that identified and decried the events in Arme -...
3 Reflections on the World Stage: Imagining Fields of Witnessing for Rwanda and the Balkans
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...in september 2002, Vojvodjanka–Regional Women’s Initiative, the Cen-ter for Education in Politics, and MEDIAPACT brought the photographicexhibition Blood and Honey to a gallery in the Serbian city of Novi Sad.Originally organized by the documentary center Wars 1991–1999 and thecultural center Rex (and supported by Freedom House and USAID) this...
4 The Work of WITNESS: Negotiating the Challenges of Video Advocacy
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Techniques of collecting information might be modern and sophisticated,but human rights organizations are motivated by the old-fashioned Enlighten-ment faith in the power of knowledge: If only people knew, they would actaccordingly. This is just the faith that is undermined by the daily practicehave long been enmeshed in practices of state propaganda, scientific...
5 iWitnesses and CitizenTube: Focus on Darfur
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...in april 2007 YouTube launched the political video log (vlog) “Citizen-Tube,” in order to “add fuel to the revolution that is YouTube politics.”1 Thephrase “YouTube Politics” hints at a democracy of speech and ideas osten-sibly enabled by the new media technologies that grant tools of videoproduction, exhibition, and distribution to noninstitutional actors. The...
Conclusion Testimonial Encounters and Tempering the Celebratory Narrative
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...this transhistorical analysis consistently returns to two key points.First, from early on, screen media have played a significant role in con-structing the popular, political, and legal imaginary of genocide and humanrights. Second, these acts of film, video, and Internet witnessing needunpacking and exploration. This study emphasizes that it is not the mere...
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Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 2012
Series Title: Visible Evidence