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Cameras and Conflict in Contemporary Cairo

August 12, 2013

Photo Credit: modenadude via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: modenadude via Compfight cc

The Egyptian Revolution has often been ironically contrasted with Gil Scott-Heron’s now ubiquitous quote “The revolution will not be televised” because, of course, that particular revolution was televised, and very thoroughly so, in spite of powerful efforts by the Mubarak regime to suppress it.

There has been a lot of discussion about the visuality of the Egyptian revolution–the signs, graffiti, erasure of the Mubaraks’ names from institutions, posters, art, images of martyrs and so forth–and there has been a great deal of discussion about the role of the Internet in communicating, dissemnating and hacking the state media system.

What has not been much discussed is the role of cameras–in all the myriad guises these take in contemporary technology–as the crucial bridge between visuality and the Internet.

That’s why I’m very excited about a call for papers on just that subject.

“Thinking with a Camera during Revolutionary Times: Generative Visualities in the Middle East” is the tentative title of a panel being proposed for the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) meetings in Seattle, Washington this March.

The panel is being proposed by Mark Westmoreland of the American University in Cairo, and Terri Ginsberg of New York University.

They describe the panel thus:

As recent images from across the Arab world have revealed a renewed investment in political visibility, we ask what does this interface between street politics and online activism mean for the way we make sense of images of resistance? In an effort to refine our assumptions about the political significance and efficacy of the documentary image, we compare and contrast recent innovations with historical modalities in ways that highlight the generative possibilities of “thinking with a camera,” aesthetic differences notwithstanding. While the region is undeniably beleaguered by simplistic representations, these practices illuminate possibilities for different ways of knowing the region as well as rethinking what constitutes the political.

I can’t go myself, but I have great hopes of fine things coming out of this conference.

If you are interested in participating, e-mail a 250-300-word abstract, along with a brief biographical statement and a 5-entry bibliography, by August 18 to:

Mark Westmoreland – mrw@aucegypt.edu AND
Terri Ginsberg – t.ginsberg.1@alumni.nyu.edu

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