Battlefield Souvenirs and the Affective Politics of Recoil
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.
Kozol, Wendy. 2012. "Battlefield Souvenirs and the Affective Politics of Recoil." Photography and Culture 5(1): 21-36.
Taylor & Francis
Photography and Culture
Comparative American Studies
Battlefield souvenirs, Archives, Witnessing, Abu Ghraib Prison