The Visual Rhetorics of Victims: Photography, News and the Politics

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:45
Location: Hörsaal 13 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Claudia GORDILLO, Universidade Federal de Parana, Brazil
Ana Luisa FAYET SALLAS, Teacher, Brazil
Colombia has the longest armed conflict in the Americas, with a wide range of participants among which paramilitary groups, guerrilla, drug-traffickers, and the official army are the most prominent. Their main purpose has been controlling populations, people and businesses through illegal means. Nowadays, there are over seven million victims.  

War takes place mostly in the jungles and rural areas, away of the main cities. As city dwellers we learn about the war mainly through mass media. The mediations mass media produces are, for the most part, embedded in several tensions that elude easy identification of its limitations. We identified five tensions: 1) dangerous and far-away areas hard to register, 2) government selective interests in making visible only certain events of the conflict, 3) new outlets exclude histories, characters, and view-points that do not respond to hegemonic readings and interests, 4) the editorial politics, its logic, privileges events of horror over the victim stories and, 5) photo-journalism has adopted visual routines that displaced the human dimension in favor of a stereotyped victim.

The articulation of these tensions configure visual rhetorics of war that reduce the victims to an objetc - victim. Thus, the individual from being a war victim becomes through a symbolic production a photography victim. The making of such 'victim' implies the construction of certain visual tale or documentary story that produces stress or tension on the victims identity.

It is here that it becomes important to ask for the visual routines if war and for the stereotypes if the 'produced' victims; two questions emerge: firstly, what is war documentary? and, second, what is victim? In addressing photographic archives I will develop an analysis of two cases, the campesinos of San Carlos and afro-descendants in Buenaventura, both characterized for being communities of resistance in Colombia.