Trial by Ordeal: Abu Ghraib and the Global Mediasphere

Lewis, B and Lewis, J 2006, 'Trial by Ordeal: Abu Ghraib and the Global Mediasphere', Topia: The Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, vol. 15, no. Spring, pp. 22-44.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Trial by Ordeal: Abu Ghraib and the Global Mediasphere
Author(s) Lewis, B
Lewis, J
Year 2006
Journal name Topia: The Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies
Volume number 15
Issue number Spring
Start page 22
End page 44
Total pages 23
Publisher York University Press
Abstract A significant social and cultural crisis is concentrated through photographs taken by military wardens at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. These photographs 'represent' critical issues, meanings and meaning-making processes, not merely of the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, but of a broader global, cultural crisis. In order to elucidate these meaning and meaning-making processes it is necessary to re-theorize key elements of the photographs' cultural setting. In particular, the 'public sphere' within which the photographs appear and are circulated should be understood as a mediasphere, the convocation of public and private engagement and expressivity within the global, networked communication systems. This is not a 'clash of civilizations', but a complex and unfolding crisis of meaning within and through cultures, a fragmentation of ideology and knowledge. It is a trial by media ordeal which challenges key assumptions in the liberal, democratic tradition. These photographs will not necessarily change the course of the war on terror, but they should contribute to the interrogation of our own culture, identity and perspectives.
Subject Media Studies
Keyword(s) terrorism
culture
Abu Ghraib
Baghdad
US-led invasion
Iraq
war on terror
ISSN 1206-0143
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