Picturing the Social: Militarism & Clean War

WAM members may be interested in the following talks by Adi Kuntsman and Rhys Crilley from the Picturing the Social Conference (7th Nov 2014), now available on Soundcloud (other presentations also available). Abstracts for Kuntsman and Crilley below:

Selfie Militarism (link)
Dr Adi Kuntsman Lecturer in Digital Media, Manchester Metropolitan University

The talk, which is part of my forthcoming co-authored book, Digital Militarism (with Rebecca L. Stein, Stanford UP, 2015), will focus on the evolution of Israeli digital militarism, and in particular, on the emergence  of what we coin “selfie militarism” – mobile self-portraiture of by IDF soldiers on and off duty. Soldier selfies, now circulated routinely via Facebook, Instagram and other social networks, depict young Israeli men and women, with our without weapons, on and off battlefield, humiliating detained Palestinians, occupying a Gazan house in the middle of an armed invasion, resting casually in between operations, or expressing an opinion on army policies. Following the proliferation of selfie militarism in the last several years, we trace how the shifts in
degree and iconography of soldier selfies reflects the changes in Israeli digital militarism itself, and more broadly, in the political horizon’s of the country’s ongoing military occupation of Palestinian territories. Today, as soldiers carry smartphones alongside their weaponry, as Israeli civilians consume, share and echo selfie militarism through their everyday networking practices, as images of Israeli military brutality spread on Israeli and global social networks, the Israeli occupation becomes at once increasingly exposed and increasingly obscured, incorporated into the very fabric of the normal, the intimate, and the everyday.

Like and Share Forces: The British Army, Images and Clean War on Facebook (link)
Rhys Crilley PhD candidate at The University of Birmingham

In the context of today’s mediatized conflicts there has been a growing body of research that has explored how ‘western’ warfare is increasingly represented as clean, hygienic and bloodless. These works tend to analyse either how war and conflict are represented in such a way in the media, or they explore and unpack the ways in which media actors and ‘western’ militaries work together. In recent years, digital media technologies have developed and proliferated in such a way that contemporary media practices in relation to war and conflict are changing in various ways; one of which is through military uses of social media. Thus far, there is a theoretical and empirical gap in regards to this phenomenon, and this paper seeks to fill this void by analysing how ‘clean war’ – conceptualised as a visuality that is used to claim legitimacy for violence – is produced and circulated on military social media sites. To do so this article examines the British Army’s visual representation of operations in Afghanistan on their official Facebook page during Operation Herrick 14 between April- October 2011.