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Seeing Syria

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The Visual Politics of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces on Facebook

The use of social media by groups such as the self-proclaimed Islamic State has been the focus of the press, politicians and scholars, but relatively little attention has been paid to how other actors involved in the Syrian conflict have been using social media platforms. In this article, I address this gap by analyzing how the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces has used Facebook. Specifically, I focus on the main narrative themes emerging in 1,174 posts uploaded to the Coalition’s English language Facebook page between November 2012 and March 2015. Recognizing that visual media play an important factor in communicating narratives of conflict, the paper also analyzes 280 sets of images of war posted during this time. I argue that these images construct a visuality focused on ‘the pain of others’ (Sontag 2004) that makes those affected, uprooted, injured, and killed by the conflict in Syria highly visible. In making this claim, I explore how this visuality of suffering has evolved over the course of the conflict.

Affiliations: 1: University of Warwick, UK


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