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Witnessing terrorism

Witnessing terrorism Witnessing is never merely watching or seeing. Witnessing is never a passive practice. Witnessing is active, a performance, an embodied experience. Given the hypermediated nature of the contemporary social world witnessing is particularly common when practised large distances from events. Contemporary terrorists, and their counterparts waging the so-called global ‘war on terror’, depend on near and distant witnesses to spread their violent messages and influence target audiences. Witnessing, however, shows itself to be contradictory and unreliable just like the people who do it, all of whom endure disowned desires and fears. Drawing on the Smithsonian, the September 11 Digital Archive and the story of lower Manhattan graphic novelist Art Spiegelman, I argue that witnessing is what is most at stake in any attempt to understand the meanings and consequences of contemporary terrorism. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Sociology SAGE

Witnessing terrorism

Journal of Sociology , Volume 51 (3): 15 – Sep 1, 2015

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References (68)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© The Author(s) 2013
ISSN
1440-7833
eISSN
1741-2978
DOI
10.1177/1440783313500760
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Witnessing is never merely watching or seeing. Witnessing is never a passive practice. Witnessing is active, a performance, an embodied experience. Given the hypermediated nature of the contemporary social world witnessing is particularly common when practised large distances from events. Contemporary terrorists, and their counterparts waging the so-called global ‘war on terror’, depend on near and distant witnesses to spread their violent messages and influence target audiences. Witnessing, however, shows itself to be contradictory and unreliable just like the people who do it, all of whom endure disowned desires and fears. Drawing on the Smithsonian, the September 11 Digital Archive and the story of lower Manhattan graphic novelist Art Spiegelman, I argue that witnessing is what is most at stake in any attempt to understand the meanings and consequences of contemporary terrorism.

Journal

Journal of SociologySAGE

Published: Sep 1, 2015

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