Distant Wars VisibleThe Ambivalence of Witnessing

Distant Wars VisibleThe Ambivalence of Witnessing

Wendy Kozol

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780816681297

Publisher: University of Minnesota Press

Abstract

Distant Wars Visible brings a new perspective to the enduring question about the efficacy of conflict photography and other forms of visual advocacy. In the twenty-first century, visuality has been a pivotal technology in the United States’ militaristic pursuit of its national security objectives as well as in critiques of the nation at war. This book analyzes both mainstream media and alternative and radical visual projects to understand how representations of U.S. militarism navigate in, through, and around national security logics. Visual witnessing, I argue, often remains bound up in national security agendas even as it may stretch beyond those agendas into other terrains of possibility. In the past several years, important new studies have been published about human rights, militarism and visual cultures. In conversation with these texts, this book’s interdisciplinary critical feminist approach consider how factors like gender, race and sexuality construct often competing visualizations of identity in a range of media from graphic narrative and film to conflict photography and battlefield souvenirs. The analytic of ambivalence offers a critical methodological approach that examines how contingencies and contradictions in visual culture shape the politics and ethics of witnessing. Distant Wars Visible’s main objective is to gain further insights into how the ethical imperative that motivates the desire to look at human insecurities in times of warfare is intimately bound up in the politics of recognition.