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GS231 Reading Nov 21.docx

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Global Studies
Sara Matthews

GS231 Reading Nov 20, 2012 Torture and the Ethics of Photography: Thinking with Sontage - “rather, I propose to consider the way in which suffering is presented to us, and how that presentation affects our responsiveness” o Representation/ presentation of suffering changes how we respond to it - Social norms are used to determine who is and who isn’t human, determining between a grievable and non- grievable life - Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay – prisons use torture - The problem with embedded reporters is censorship on their photographs and stories, their reliance on the soldiers for protection brings the self censorship of the reporters and the state has control over what is shown to civilians to protect their myth of the war - Restricted reporting causes false reporting – controlled perspectives o Not allowed to show the dead of our country (no negative sentiments) - Photos need a narrative to tell the story but these too can be controlled o A photo is a momentary snapshot of what is happening but can easily be taken out of context o Fragmented/ disconnected o Imprints of reality o Need more than a photo to achieve understanding (ex. Article, caption, consciousness) - Transitive function: must effect the viewer to alter their perception on war **power to do so? - Sontage: we have seen too many awful things to be able to respond to suffering anymore o Doubts in the photos o Photos only create momentary feelings (we forget once we put the photo away) o Photos must shock and appeal to moral obligation o Possible? - Narratives bring understanding, photos haunt us o Narratives used to explain the photo are interpreted but are used to back up claims - Photos are needed as proof o But the images can be framed for a certain purpose o Must question everything presented for its purpose and truth o We need to see photos but think about them and form our own understanding of the photo and the narrative o Photos can create a national identity – Americans are cruel after Abu Ghraib  State works to control these images when it can  Need to expose the authority creating the perception Justifying Torture as an Act of War - Need to present the war in a way that supports the troops/ the war -
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