The hunger striker
A case for embodied visuality
in Image operations
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‘Image operations’ immediately evokes the rich scholarship on new media technologies, be they satellite or drone images. Their shadow occludes another mode of image mobilisation: the formation of popular movements against state and corporate hegemonies. At the centre of such mobilisation lies an ‘embodied visuality’, harnessing spectatorial senses to the image and forging collectivity among those held in its thrall. A theory of embodied visuality indexes the social power of the image, a power perhaps most potent in the icon. Focusing on one kind of iconic image, visceral and sensuous, this chapter considers the image operations of the hunger striker in forging the popular. It looks at the anti-governmental campaign launched in the name of Irom Sharmila, the iron lady of Manipur, and asks: What is the nature of Sharmila’s appeal? Can we argue it has something to do with the formal operations of the image or its specific historical materiality? Can its operation be generalized beyond the historical context of Manipur?

Image operations

Visual media and political conflict

Editors: Jens Eder and Charlotte Klonk

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