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This panel attends to the provocative role of images in the context of political struggles, wars and border conflicts and asks about the affective role of digital and audio-visual images as sites of contestation.
Recent conflicts and social movements - whether political or environmental - have renewed the debate on the role that visuals play as a means of provocation. In this panel, we are interested in those visuals that relate to border conflicts, war, and protest movements, and emanate either directly from actors involved (political actors, protesters, social movements) or from "cultural commentators" (artists, photo-journalists, filmmakers) who provocatively and visually engage with historical and contemporary sites of contestation - whether they are located in Central America, in Hong Kong, in the Middle East or Europe. We are especially interested in the provocative role these visuals assume. How has the visual vocabulary on both local and global scales changed in response to recent sites of contestation? What counts as a visual provocation nowadays? We ask these questions in a context where imagery on borders, wars, and conflicts has been omnipresent to the extent that it became desensitizing. If the public, as Susan Sontag noted back in 2003, has become fatigued, rather than shocked by the horror of wars, then what role can provocative images assume nowadays? And if the live coverage of wars on TV, as Baudrillard has observed during the 1991 Gulf war, seems to evening-time viewers more surreal than real, then how to bridge the alienating effects of mass mediations of visuals today? We aim to debate these and related questions through a set of approaches comprising studies in peace and conflict, visual anthropology, cultural studies, social movements theory, and the arts.