Accepted Paper:

From 'trophy job' to 'war trophy': a gendered reading of pictures from the Israeli-Palestinian case  

Author:

Ilaria Simonetti (EHESS)

Paper short abstract:

This paper wishes to discuss the connections between gender relations, war violence and its media exposure by focusing the attention on the case of women soldiers in Tzahal (the Israeli Defence Force).

Paper long abstract:

Since the Abu Ghraib scandal broke out, world's public opinion has become more conscious of the evolution in the use and diffusion of war pictures (Internet, screen savers, personal web pages etc.) as well as the existence of a documented female violence inside the armies. By focusing the attention on the case of women soldiers in Tzahal (the Israeli Defence Force), this paper wishes to discuss the connections between gender relations, war violence and its media exposure.

I will examine pictures that were published on a social network during the last years, showing an Israeli woman soldier posing beside bound and blindfolded Palestinian prisoners. The gender role inversion and the adoption of parodic seduction characterise these pictures. By explaining the production of these pictures as "war trophies", my presentation studies the gendered dynamics integral to the members of a national army as actors in the field. Between bodily performance and stigmatization of the 'other', I will show how through the photographic 'mise en scène' and its media exposure women try to negotiate their role in the army and vis-à-vis the enemy. Pictures as war trophies not only reveal soldiers' abuses and their trivialization during conflicts but also disclose power relations between women soldiers, the military system and the enemies. While female violence is denied, trivialized and depoliticized in the public arena, the concept of agency is essential for the explanation of the circular dynamic of violence.

Panel W075
The visual in times of uncertainty: experience lived/experience recorded