'I will not leave, my freedom is more precious than my blood': From affect to precarity: crowd-sourced citizen archives as memories of the Syrian war

University of Birmingham Muirhead Tower 714-715
Monday 20 November 2017 (16:00-17:30)

Giuditta Fontana g.fontana@bham.ac.uk

Based on the author’s mapping of citizen-generated footage from Daraa, the city where the Syria uprising started in March 2011, this talk looks at the relation between crowd-sourced archives and processes of history making in times of war. It describes the ‘migrant journey’ of the Daraa archive, from its origins as an eyewitness documentation of the early days of the uprising, to its current status as a digital archive of the Syrian war. It also assesses the effects of digital technologies for rethinking the ways in which our societies bear witness and remember. By so doing, it attempts to address the pitfalls attending the representation and narrativisation of an ongoing conflict, especially in the light of rising concerns on the precariousness and disappearance of the digital archives. Finally, by engaging with scholarship from archival studies, this paper also attempts to address the intellectual rift between humanities and archival studies scholars, and is intended as a call for more collaboration between the two disciplines for a more constructive research on archival representations of conflict. 

Speaker biography

Dr. Dima Saber is a Senior Research Fellow at the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research (Birmingham City University). Her research is focussed on media depictions of conflict in the Arab region and the relations between digital media literacy and social impact in post-revolution and conflict settings such as Egypt, Palestine and Syria. Her latest publications include work on crowd-sourced Syrian archives as memories of the Syrian war (in Archives and Records, 2017), on Hezbollah and IS videogames productions (in Media, Culture and Society, 2016), and on Al-Jazeera’s coverage of the July 2006 war (in The Journal of Arab and Muslim Media Research, 2016). She is currently writing a monograph titled ‘Archives of War: Narrating 60 Years of Conflict in the MENA’ which looks at the relation between media archives of conflict and processes of history making, since the triumph of Pan-Arab radio in Egypt in the 1950s until the rise of political Islam in the aftermath of the Iranian revolution, and within more contemporary contexts such as the war in Syria. 

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