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Seeing Human Rights: Video Activism as a Proxy Profession (Information Policy)

Seeing Human Rights: Video Activism as a Proxy Profession (Information Policy)

Current price: $35.00
Publication Date: August 3rd, 2021
The MIT Press
Special Order - Subject to Availability


As video becomes an important tool to expose injustice, an examination of how human rights organizations are seeking to professionalize video activism.

Visual imagery is at the heart of humanitarian and human rights activism, and video has become a key tool in these efforts. The Saffron Revolution in Myanmar, the Green Movement in Iran, and Black Lives Matter in the United States have all used video to expose injustice. In Seeing Human Rights, Sandra Ristovska examines how human rights organizations are seeking to professionalize video activism through video production, verification standards, and training. The result, she argues, is a proxy profession that uses human rights videos to tap into journalism, the law, and political advocacy.

Ristovska explains that this proxy profession retains some tactical flexibility in its use of video while giving up on the more radical potential and imaginative scope of video activism as a cultural practice. Drawing on detailed analysis of legal cases and videos as well as extensive interviews with staff members of such organizations as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, WITNESS, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), and the International Criminal Court (ICC), Ristovska considers the unique affordances of video and examines the unfolding relationships among journalists, human rights organizations, activists, and citizens in global crisis reporting. She offers a case study of the visual turn in the law; describes advocacy and marketing strategies; and argues that the transformation of video activism into a proxy profession privileges institutional and legal spaces over broader constituencies for public good.

About the Author

Sandra Ristovska is Assistant Professor of Media Studies in the College of Media, Communication and Information at the University of Colorado Boulder and coeditor of Visual Imagery and Human Rights Practice.

Praise for Seeing Human Rights: Video Activism as a Proxy Profession (Information Policy)

“This book is a superb guide to the ever-important and fast-evolving work of this ‘proxy profession.’”
International Affairs

“Anyone studying visual communication in institutional contexts, video activism, or media’s impacts on human rights would greatly benefit from Ristovska’s expansive, unique research in Seeing Human Rights.”
Human Rights Quarterly

“The impressive richness of nuanced observations makes Seeing Human Rights an important source for everyone interested in understanding how human rights videos from the grassroots are integrated, processed, and chewed up in the machineries of power and decision-making as video activism is turned into a proxy profession.”
Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly

“An engrossing examination of human rights’ media politics that will make a valuable contribution to journalism studies, critical legal and human rights scholarship, and media studies of distant suffering.”
—International Journal of Communication