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The Afterlives of Violent Images

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Reading Photographs from the Tal al-Zaʿtar Refugee Camp on Facebook

image of Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication

This article examines the posting of photographs on two Facebook groups created by survivors of the 1976 fall of the Tal al-Zaʾtar refugee camp and their descendants. What happens to photographs as they circulate through these particular social media groups, and what relations do people (including photographed subjects who appear in images of atrocity and trauma) create with such images as they circulate in new ways? How are they mobilized through social media to create and sustain collective memory? I argue that by addressing the yearning to discover, document and sustain networks of affiliation and association on one hand and a shared geography, lost in 1976 and virtually reconstructed through members’ activities on the sites on the other, group members appeal in complex ways to both indexical and iconic qualities of photographs, thereby allowing for the creative engagement with a collective past for the needs of community members in the present.

Affiliations: 1: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Asian Studies, USA


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