This article addresses a number of questions regarding the changing status and resultant interpretations of amateur photographs of war in the twentieth century. It reconsiders the photographs of the German army soldiers during World War II and the photographs taken in Abu Ghraib prison during the Iraq war with a view to finding a new approach to contemporary amateur photographs. This new approach shifts away from the study of the contents of the image to a focus on its ongoing reception and ideological effects. The article asks the following questions among others: Are amateur photographs of war and battlefields possible today? Or do amateur photographers and their portrayals of war belong to a bygone era? Have the provocations of amateur images that resist official versions of war been lost to the proliferation of digital possibilities, the overwhelming impact of consumer culture, and the domination of the mass media? Has the disquieting potential of the amateur vanished amid the glut of images of war and violence? If the answer to all these questions is no, then how can we identify amateur photographs of war?


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pp. 53-74
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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