Digital visualities disrupted - Local photographers in Aleppo and the shifting infrastructures of war
Nina Grønlykke Mollerup
(University of Copenhagen)
Paper short abstract:
This paper interrogates the importance of digital media technologies for local, non- or semi-professional photographers in Aleppo and their ability to disseminate their work, focusing on the time when the city was under rebel-control.
Paper long abstract:
Images from the war in Syria have been spread extensively across the globe, including by news corporations. However, for several years these corporations have refrained from sending staffed photographers to Syria because of the immense danger and have thus depended on local photographers for visual documentation. These local photographers have developed their skills and networks due to the need for visual documentation and their desire to inform the world about atrocities, aided only by limited training and occasionally equipment provided by international NGOs. This paper builds on anthropological literature on media and conflict and understands digital media as co-constitutive of conflicts (Postill, Budka and Bräuchler forthcoming). The paper is based on interviews with local photographers from Aleppo and NGO workers as well as digital, image-focused ethnography. It interrogates the importance of digital media technologies for local, non- or semi-professional photographers in Aleppo and their ability to disseminate their work, focusing on the time when the city was under rebel-control. When the regime regained control of Aleppo in the end of 2016, photographers had to physically carry harddrives with visual documentation out of the city, highlighting the intersections of political control and (lack of) digital access. That is, in the everyday life of photographers in war, materialities of the digital is pushed to the fore because access to digital infrastructures is dependent on the shifting physical control of the city, proximity to political borders and availability of devices.
The digital turn: new directions in media anthropology [Media Anthropology Network]