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Visual media and political conflict
Editors: Jens Eder and Charlotte Klonk

Still and moving images are crucial factors in contemporary political conflicts. They not only have representational, expressive or illustrative functions, but also augment and create significant events. Beyond altering states of mind, they affect bodies, and often life or death is at stake. Various forms of image operations are currently performed in the contexts of war, insurgency and activism. Photographs, videos, interactive simulations and other kinds of images steer drones to their targets, train soldiers, terrorise the public, celebrate protest icons, uncover injustices, or call for help. They are often parts of complex agential networks and move across different media and cultural environments. This book is a pioneering interdisciplinary study of the role and function of images in political life. Balancing theoretical reflections with in-depth case studies, it brings together renowned scholars and activists from different fields to offer a multifaceted critical perspective on a crucial aspect of contemporary visual culture.

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Assassinations and bomb attacks in the late nineteenth and early twenty-first centuries
Charlotte Klonk

The introduction argues that images are of central importance in the propagation of acts of terror. Where an inferior militant group challenges the supremacy of the state, it is not the actual number of casualties that counts but the capacity to spread horror and fear among the masses and potential glory among sympathisers. The chapter introduces the concept of patterns of images in the media, discusses the concept of media frames and the term terror as well as the literature on terrorism and concludes with a critical reflection on the evidentiary character of pictures in this context. It establishes that fighting with images is a kind of psychological battle in which unintended consequences are the rule rather than the exception.

in Terror
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Charlotte Klonk

tenets of modern terrorism: it is not the act of violence itself that counts, but the images of it that are brought into circulation. On 15 March 2019, the mass murderer of fifty worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand took self-publicity on social media to a new level. Not only did he live-stream his attack on Facebook in the manner of a first-person shooter computer game, he announced it in advance on the darknet. A few minutes before the start of the massacre, he also emailed a long ‘statement’ – a mixture of far-right symbols, texts and references – to the Prime

in Terror
Images of female suicide bombers in the Middle East
Verena Straub

Muhaydli’s media innovation as a point of departure, this chapter is concerned with the active stake suicide bombers’ videos have in the making of a martyr. A closer look at the use and social practices of video testimonies will reveal that so-​called ‘martyrdom operations’ are first and foremost image operations. Opening this chapter with the image of a secular and female suicide bomber turns many of our Western assumptions on their head. In addition to underlining that suicide bombing and terrorism in the Middle East were originally not linked with Islam, it forces us

in Image operations
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Charlotte Klonk

-​first century has changed the nature of terrorism. Different religious sensibilities and cultural uses of imagery are sometimes mentioned and different attitudes to violence cited as evidence for this assertion. I would argue, however, that with regard to the imagery concerned, this is not the case. Al-​Qaida’s calculated image politics is located squarely within the patterns of Western media coverage, and the same applies to the images currently being distributed by the terrorist group Islamic State (Günther 2014). Even in the case of what is arguably a religiously motivated

in Image operations
From bad taste to gross-out
John Mundy and Glyn White

their protestations, the real object of Cohen’s scathing humour is us, as he forces us to confront our own prejudices and limitations. Have you heard the joke about the terrorist?: Four Lions (2010) Sensitivities about global terrorism since the attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York in September 2001, and the London bombings of July 2005, have produced

in Laughing matters
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Belonging
Alpesh Kantilal Patel

identification of turban-wearing Muslim and Sikh cab drivers as terrorists in a post-9/11 New York. Turbans not only became visual signifiers of terrorism, but also carried implicit presumptions of a lack of American citizenship. For instance, Frank S. Roque, who killed Balbir Singh Sodhi, an Indian Sikh from Arizona, on 15 September 2001 was heard saying that he 191 192 Productive failure would ‘kill the rag heads responsible for September 11’, prior to his assaults, and when handcuffed, he said, ‘I stand for America all the way! I’m an American. Go ahead. Arrest me and

in Productive failure
Word and image in the twenty-first century. Envoi
Catherine Gander and Sarah Garland

product of and a reaction to the political ferment of the era.27 Nancy Spero was one of a group of artists organising against the Vietnam War (the first ‘televised’ war, whose images were as heavily censored as those of the ‘war on terror’), as well as pushing a strong feminist agenda, and Lippard implies that conceptual art’s offering of ‘a bridge between the verbal and the visual’ facilitated the activation of such ideas.28 In our current time of wars, more than one being fought by the USA on foreign soil as part of the larger fight against global terrorism, this

in Mixed messages
Assemblages of images and the production of knowledge
W. J. T. Mitchell

crime scene itself. In the espionage and terrorism thriller, Homeland (USA, 2011), a female CIA agent (who is suffering from bipolar disorder) assembles a colour-​coded chronological atlas of images and texts to track a Middle Eastern terrorist’s behaviour patterns over a ten-​year period. The evidentiary ‘smoking gun’ that is revealed by the wall atlas is not to be found in the positive signs on the wall, but in a blank chasm that interrupts the chronology, and provides the clue to the terrorist’s mysterious withdrawal from activity, during which the ultimate weapon

in Image operations
Ana Longoni

(and the viewer) was that of a privileged witness, in this new series the place of enunciation was that of the chased person who has no certain destination and looks back terrified. In 1976, when the violent dictatorship institutionalised state terrorism, causing the disappearance of tens of thousands of people,28 Dowek produced a new series of paintings, Paisajes cotidianos (Quotidian landscapes), best known as the ‘wire fence series’. A landscape, the sky, the field, the canvas, an armchair or a doll: everything is covered with the wire fence used to divide

in Art, Global Maoism and the Chinese Cultural Revolution