PDF - The Civil Contract of Photography. In this groundbreaking work, Ariella Azoulay provides a compelling rethinking of the political and ethical status of. ARGUMENTATION AND ADVOCACY 47 (Winter ): I BOOK REVIEWS The Civil Contract ofPhotography. By Ariella Azoulay. New York: Zone . Christopher Pinney • Civil Contract of Photography in India 23 These include the foundational claim . Azoulay, Civil Contract, tamia (National Archives of India [NAI], New Delhi, Home .. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Mac- Azoulay, Ariella.
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The Civil Contract of. Photography. Ariella Azoulay. Z O N E B O O K S. •. N E W Y O R K. Azoulay 1st pagesj 1/29/08 AM Page 3. The Civil Contract of. Photography. Ariella Azoulay. Translated by Rela Mazail and Ruvik Danlall. ZONE BOOKS - NEW YORK. The Civil Contract of Photography. We have seen that citizenship is a form of relations between the gov- erned individual and the governing authority, relations .
By Ariella Azoulay. New York: Zone Books, Ariella Azoulay's The Civil Contract of Photography is a simply stunning challenge to the ways in which visual culture scholars imagine the productive possibilities of photography as a mode of political contestation, domain of argument, and site of ethical engagement. Azoulay asks a worthy question: in the face of political disaster, catastrophe, and state violence, how might photography enable identifications and obligations amongst citizens, abandoned, and stateless persons wathin the contemporary geopolitical landscape? Contra understandings of photography embraced by Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes that see photography of implicit and explicit violence as politically and ethically bankrupt, Azoulay formulates a powerful theory-one she calls the "civil contract of photography"-as an imaginative mode of cultivating controversy and resistance against the whims of abusive state sovereignty. Over the course of nine chapters following a detailed introduction, Azoulay meticulously outlines and performs a method of reading photographs, foreground- ing the importance of visual eirgument in articulating a formation of citizenship productive for intervening in the violent spectacles of late-modernity. Argumentation critics have grappled with the particular problematics of images-as-argu- ment, highlighting the need to attend to the rhetorical conditions of an image's emergence and circulation, i.
This was the same protean eur Alert! The tripod regime produced hundreds of similar such stories that have looded regime-friendly images; citizen cameras roaming the Indian press in recent years. This system will The Tehelka X-ray and the sordid aspects of eventually attach a twelve- digit number to a facial MMS- ography return us to the dichotomy with photograph, retinal scans, and inger- and thumb- which we started.
One route to understand- without this twelve- digit number. And yet every In- ing this particularization, this willing embrace of dian I know who is not a cynical academic warmly the necessity of making oneself visible to the state, embraces this impending event.
Their self- willed lies in the persistent discourses around state blind- interpellation into the state promises a freedom ness that have emerged in recent anticorruption through visibility. As one low- paid laborer in agitations.
Citizen- produced imagery associated whom I had hoped to ind evidence of subaltern with the Anna Hazare movement, which morphed resistance told me, once he has his number he will into the Aam Admi Party, repeatedly conjured an be able to travel the whole length of India without image of a state blind to the injustices suffered rok-tok obstacles, or obstructions. Indeed the common slogan was that new tripod regime? Smaller and faster economy of sight. In choosing to see only the bene- apparatuses seems to generate not a contractual its of Aadhaar, rather than its potentially huge dis- utopia but in the case of MMS- ography its op- ciplinary capability, Indians might be understood posite: a contract-free dystopic exploitation of the to be seeking the rectiication of an imbalance in private facilitated by new digital platforms and the the distribution of the visible in ways that would protection of anonymity.
It starts with the two not quite coincident a citizenship of proper entitlement and free pas- dates and and proceeds via smaller and sage expresses a desire for a new form of contract faster apparatuses toward increasing citizen power.
I hope I have made clear that her model illumi- Recall that the sarpanch of Bhandarez vilage, nates a good deal of nineteenth- and twentieth- the village in Rajasthan that had banned girls from century struggles over photography in India. Its trajectory starts to describe a loop a fu- mobile phones and also scarves which helps in hid- sion of a helix with a Mobius loop.
In the twenty- ing identity. The scarf and the phone are incarnated here as technics of disguise that allow free movement under the surveillance of the tripod regime.
The Coming of Photography in India. Agamben, Giorgio. Translated by Daniel Heller-Roazen. Stanford, Portman, M.
Stanford University Press, The Burden of Representation: Essays on Photog- The Civil Contract of Photography. New millan, York: Zone, Camera Lucida: Relections on Photography. Basing- Translated by Richard Howard.
Wang, Bayly, C. Cambridge: Cambridge Uni- versity Press, Dumont, Louis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Gujarat Provincial Congress Committee.
Ahmedabad: Gujarat Provincial Congress Commit- tee, Hariman, Robert, and John Lucaites. Horniman, B. Amritsar and Our Duty to India. London: T. Fisher Unwin, Indian National Congress.
The Congress Punjab Inquiry, — New Delhi: National Book Trust, Jhaveri, V. Bombay: published by the au- thor, Kapila, Shruti, and Faisal Devji, eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, It gave people the chance to share their visual field with one another, to see more than they could see alone, to be in otherwise unreachable times and places. Through the taking and viewing of images, new lines of belonging are drawn. We are citizens not of nations but of images.
We are accountable to one another, responsible for what the camera lets us see. This responsibility, for Azoulay, is not abstract. Photographers and people who have let themselves be photographed assume that someday people will see their images and do something in response to what they see, she argues. They imagined you, their future viewer, hovering above them at the moment the picture was taken, and you must live up to their expectations. Though not all of the included photographs depict violence and its aftermath, the book focusses squarely on images of pain and suffering—and on what to do when encountering such pictures.
In the introduction, Pinney rethinks the long-held belief in the indexicality of photographs: the idea that photographs have a natural, even physical, relationship with their referents, and are thus somehow truer or more accurate than other forms of representation.
Yes, photographs show what was there, Pinney argues, but what was there can be much more than what the photographer wanted the viewer to see. The biologist Louis Agassiz ordered these images made ; he wanted to use photography to substantiate his claim that not all human beings belonged to the same species, to prove that blacks were inferior to whites, to justify the enslavement of some bodies by other bodies.
With the help of his colleague Dr. Robert Gibbes, a paleontologist, who was friends with local slavers, Agassiz travelled to the Taylor plantation, set up a studio, and hired J.
Zealy to take the daguerreotypes. Argumentation critics have grappled with the particular problematics of images-as-argu- ment, highlighting the need to attend to the rhetorical conditions of an image's emergence and circulation, i. Although Azoulay does not explicitly theorize argument, she addresses a number of themes relevant to the readers of this journal: first, how do photographs function as argumentative fragments within a larger discursive economy or "regime of statements" p.
Azoulay's claims about the political relations forged within photography are contextualized by her broader critique of liberal democratic citizenship. In a sense, challenging the ways in which we articulate the meanings and habits of citizenship radically transforms the kinds of arguments possible to respond to violences against abandoned persons. The introduction is a broad portrait of her concept, "the civil contract of photography," and the way it is animated in contexts of disaster.
Within the contract, citizenship is imagined not as a status or possession that a sovereign bestows upon individuals, but rather, as a "tool of a struggle or an obligation to others to struggle against injuries inflicted on those others, citizens and noncitizens" p.
As a whole, the book challenges formations of citizenship that constrain political action to iterations of liberal democracy. Instead, Azoulay argues that because the relations of photography exist outside of the boundaries of nation-state and market, it enables citizens and non-citizens to create forms of solidarity premised on their shared governance p. Azoulay's radical democratic sensibility intersects with the ways in which she articulates how spectators are implicated in the photographic relation.
Photography, she argues, is a pluralistic apparatus that includes photographed objects or persons, environments, camera, photographer, and spectator p. Here, Hannah Arendt's WINTER notion of plurality is critical: because photography is a set of relations, no spectator can "own" the image or colonize its meaning. These relations are especially important in the context of disaster and catastrophe.
Here, photographed objects or persons ought to be understood as an address toward the spectator, in which their grievance constitutes a responsibility to respond p. Hence, images of political trauma demand a heightened moral sensibility on behalf of the spectator to reconstruct the photographic event and respond to the claims articulated by the photographed. The book draws from a range of visual encounters: torture in Abu Ghraib, conflict in the Palestinian Occupied Territories, and the contentious in vis- ible presence of images of rape and sexual assault, among others.
From these conditions of horror, Azoulay boldly and convincingly argues that the spectator ethic enables a civil space for contemplation that transforms political consciousness, action, and being in the world. Each chapter expands understanding of the components of the contract in exquisite detail with relevant examples. The organization of the book leans more toward a study of critical method, rather than directed towards specific case studies, though Azoulay's arguments are always grounded in contemporary and historical photographic events.
At the beginning of the chapter, Azoulay questions why images of the act of rape are absent from our cultural archives of horror.
Unsatisfied with the logic that rape takes place in private spaces without witness, Azoulay connects images of women's everyday abandon- ment to absent images of rape p.