During July‒August 2014 it is estimated that Israel dropped 18‒20,000 tons of explosives on Gaza, which led to the deaths of over 2,100 people, with homes, hospitals, schools and whole districts obliterated to rubble. Photographs played a crucial role in mediating this devastation within corporate media, social media as well as in street protests and pickets. How did Palestinians and their supporters challenge the hegemonic representations of Gazans within the mainstream media, and with what success?
Analysing the corporate media’s employment of both regulatory frameworks as well as political positioning in visuals and narratives suggests support for an Israeli PR agenda, which normalizes Israeli perspectives and inscribes Palestinians as both political and social “other. Collectively, citizens however, can effectively speak truth to power. By employing Ariella Azoulay’s notion of a “citizenry of photography” and reflecting on the wider communication ecologies in which photographs operated (on social media and in street protests), we can identify the ways in which images of suffering, placed in personal narratives and within a wider visual discursive field played a role in influencing the public’s understanding of the Palestinian plight, turning despair to indignation to demand change.
Dr Anandi Ramamurthy is Reader in Post/Colonial Cultures at Sheffield Hallam University. Her books include Black Star: Britain’s Asian Youth Movements Pluto Press (2013); Imperial Persuaders: Images of African and Asian People in British Advertising Manchester University Press (2003); Colonial Advertising and Commodity Racism, Lit Verlag (2013) (co-edited with Wulf Hund and Michael Pickering); Visual Culture and Decolonisation in Britain (co-edited with Simon Faulkner), Ashgate (2006). She established the tandana.org archive of materials relating to the Asian Youth Movements in 2005 and has produced DVDs and educational materials for schools and community groups on the subject of the Asian Youth Movements.