Title

Battlefield Souvenirs and the Affective Politics of Recoil

Abstract

This essay explores the ways in which archives that bear the traces of military violence set up affective demands for those who turn to photographic archives in pursuit of evidence. I compare my intimate encounter with a relative's archive of Second World War battlefield souvenirs with the US national encounter with the torture pictures from Abu Ghraib. Bringing these two seemingly disparate archives into conjunction reveals battlefield archives to be sites that elicit complex negotiations around subjectivity, citizenship, and witnessing. Using my relationship with my relative's archive as an anchor through which to resist imposing a “moral” judgment that enables an alibi of disavowal, I propose witnessing strategies that instead encourage a self-reflexive engagement with spectatorship and historical accountability.

Publisher

Taylor & Francis

Publication Date

3-1-2012

Publication Title

Photography and Culture

Department

Comparative American Studies

Document Type

Article

DOI

10.2752/175145212X13233396184991

Keywords

Battlefield souvenirs, Archives, Witnessing, Abu Ghraib Prison

Language

English

Format

text

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