CFP: Images and Collective violence: Functions, Use, and Memory – Genocide Studies and Prevention (Deadline: July 31, 2017)

CFP: Images and Collective violence: Functions, Use, and Memory – Genocide Studies and Prevention
Deadline: July 31, 2017


Since its inception, the field of genocide studies has been characterized by its interdisciplinarity. In recent years, research has not only focused on clarifying and understanding genocidal processes from diverse perspectives such as history, sociology, philosophy, and law, but also on visual representations of mass violence. Photography, cinema (fiction as well as documentary), video, television, installations, and websites, to name but a few examples, have been studied in reflections of genocide and collective violence.

Although images are useful for the study of processes of collective violence, they are nonetheless often ambiguous or even opaque in meaning. Analysis of these visual texts requires specific competencies in order to assess both their technical and expressive codes, and their forms of interpellation of the viewer (identification, fascination) through elements such as composition, editing and montage. Firstly, visual productions are valuable objects of research to analyze how ideologies of génocidaires engender hatred and create conditions conducive to the commission of mass violence by constructing perceived “enemy” groups through propaganda. Secondly, during processes of extermination themselves, images may be produced, by a variety of actors (perpetrators, witnesses or even victims), raising questions of how to take into consideration the pragmatic conditions in the production of images. Finally, post facto, another series of images allows us to at least partially reconstruct what happened.

In all these cases, visual texts quite often become sources of controversy, while also interacting with other forms of information and evidence, such as documents. Images particularly may undergo social reconfiguration in the aftermath of genocide as it they are reinterpreted by successive generations. In this context, visual analysis enables us to pose a series of important questions concerning the relationship between past and present, history and memory, fact and testimony, and in relation to the construction of memory, justice and truth. Finally, all these questions point to the cliché of unrepresentability or, to be more precise, the limits of representation in relation to extreme violence.

Genocide Studies and Prevention (GSP) invites submissions exploring how visual imagery operates to shape understandings of collective violence for a planned Special Issue. In particular, GSP welcomes submissions on the following topics:

  • Images taken by perpetrators, liberators and witnesses (bystanders). Who produces images of collective violence can determine how such images are distributed and received, affecting memory and representations of the facts. How are images produced by different constituencies interpreted differently? How do such differences affect how images and representations of mass violence interact with one another?
  • The archival process. Images taken amidst atrocity or after atrocity events (such as images of German concentration camps) typically are used as visual support and evidence for assertions and illustration of facts. However, these images are not static and their meaning(s) may change over time. How do these image circulate? How are they used and, perhaps appropriated? How do they migrate, both in time and between media?
  • Forensic images. Which images are displayed in courts, criminal or otherwise? What films or fragments of images are allowed to be projected in the course of criminal proceedings and what kind of evidentiary value do they offer? Conversely, how are trials filmed and what are the uses of the resulting images (e.g. reproduction in newsreels, documentaries, television, and even feature films)?
  • Representations of victims and perpetrators. Visual productions are often designed to tell particular narratives or elicit particular responses or affects, both before events (such as by defining a particular group to be attacked) as well as after. How does imagery encourage empathy or antipathy? What are the ramifications of this instrumentalization of imagery?
  • The public and the private. What images of the private sphere are exposed in visual productions? Privately-produced photos and videos have often been key sources of audiovisual depictions of life amidst mass violence and at times have depicted the violence itself. How do visual representations of collective violence and those surviving amidst such violence interact with, or perhaps transgress the public/private divide?
  • Generations. Every generation creates its own memories of the past. Different generational interpretations and points of view of histories of collective violence are thus, to some extent, inevitable. How are such differences manifested in imagery? How do different generations create their own modes of representation? Is there a dialogue between the generations through imagery?
  • Comparative approaches. How do images interact with testimonial sources or other

Those interested in submitting manuscripts should contact GSP guest editor Vicente Sánchez-
Biosca ( and GSP Film Review Editor Lior Zylberman

Submissions must be received by 31 July 2017. Publication will be in early 2018. Submissions must be submitted online through the GSP website at and must adhere to the GSP formatting guidelines available on the website. All articles are subject to internal and external (double blind) review.