Realism or Iconography? The Pentagon’s Implicit Theory of Visual Representation

The following is an extract from my chapter, “A Flickr of Militarization: Photographic Regulation, Symbolic Consecration, and the Strategic Communication of ‘Good Intentions’,” published in Good Intentions: Norms and Practices of Imperial Humanitarianism (Montreal: Alert Press, 2014), pp. 185-279: US military documents make it quite clear that, for the military, a photograph is a straightforward, […]

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The US Military as Great Chief, Father, Doctor, and Babysitter

The following is an extract from my chapter, “A Flickr of Militarization: Photographic Regulation, Symbolic Consecration, and the Strategic Communication of ‘Good Intentions’,” published in Good Intentions: Norms and Practices of Imperial Humanitarianism (Montreal: Alert Press, 2014), pp. 185-279: In 2009 the Department of the Army produced a field manual titled, “Visual Information Operations” (US […]

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The Visual Imperium

The following is an extract from my chapter, “A Flickr of Militarization: Photographic Regulation, Symbolic Consecration, and the Strategic Communication of ‘Good Intentions’,” published in Good Intentions: Norms and Practices of Imperial Humanitarianism (Montreal: Alert Press, 2014), pp. 185-279: One of the possibly more fruitful areas of inquiry to come out of studies of contemporary […]

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Virtual Solitary Confinement of Local Hearts and Minds

The album’s first track begins with a voice bearing clear pronunciation, tonal and inflectional marks of my stereotypic twenty-something, northern USan, college-educated, working class, urban, black male. “Hello? “Hello? “Can you hear me?  Is anybody in there? “I have no way of knowing if you can hear me.” Doonesbury by Garry Trudeau Albert Einstein: “I […]

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Libya and the Passive Repeaters: Deploying Depleted Information Warheads

A video that in many ways corresponds with what I argued in “America’s Iranian Twitter Revolution,” the video below in part shows how the use of social media to make falsified versions of Libyan reality can go viral–radioactive–producing an intellectually toxic swarm of passive repeaters. Critical questions are like static, they interrupt the clarity of the message: dictator vs. revolutionaries, support the people, implement a no-fly zone right now. But this is so patronizing, it denies “agency”–just like the agency of the consumer who must decide and then boldly act on which colour iPod™ to buy. Have a look at The Guardian’s “Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media: Military’s ‘sock puppet’ software creates fake online identities to spread pro-American propaganda.”…Also check “‘Post-Qaddafi Libya’: on the Globalist Road,” “Who are the Libyan Freedom Fighters and Their Patrons?” “US-trained [and U.S.-based] economist, Libyan rebels’ new finance minister,” and “New Libyan rebel leader spent much of past 20 years in suburban Virginia.”….

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Encircling Empire: Report #13—Revolution, Intervention, Anthropology

In this report, first two maps of social media penetration in the Middle East and North Africa, in relation to ongoing revolts; then, a long overdue catalogue of anthropologists writing online about the revolutions across the Middle East and North Africa; then a series of opposing items, those dealing with rejections of any foreign military intervention in Libya (a position best articulated by Fidel Castro), followed by statements by what would otherwise be willing interventionists, in the U.S. government, who find multiple problems with imposing a no-flight-zone, and then those articles and statements that strongly favour intervention, and the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P); finally, we end with notes on empire at work in Afghanistan.

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Coming soon on Al Jazeera.net

Starting next month, I will be joining Al Jazeera as the author of a series of monthly columns, beginning with articles on issues raised here, dealing with soft power, social media, digital activism, and almost certainly something about the Minerva Research Initiative and the Human Terrain System. I am very thankful to Al Jazeera’s editors […]

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