I am excited to announce that my new book, The Weaponized Camera in the Middle East: Videography, Aesthetics, and Politics in Israel and Palestine, has just been published by Bloomsbury / I.B.Tauris Imprint. The book is available as a hardback or e-book at: https://www.bloomsbury.
Drawing on unprecedented access to the video archives of B’Tselem, an Israeli NGO that distributes cameras to Palestinians living in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, The Weaponized Camera lays out an argument for a visual studies approach to videographic evidence in Israel and Palestine. Using video stills as core material, it discusses the politics of videographic evidence in Israel and Palestine by demonstrating that the conflict is one that has produced an inequality of visual rights. The book highlights visual surveillance and counter surveillance at the citizen level, how Palestinians originally filmed to “shoot back” at Israelis, who were armed with shooting power via weapons as the occupying force. It also traces how Israeli private citizens began filming back at Palestinians with their own cameras, including personal cell phone cameras, thus creating a simultaneous, echoing counter surveillance.
Complicating the notion that visual evidence alone can secure justice, The Weaponized Camera in The Middle East asks how what is seen, but also who is seeing, affects how conflicts are visually recorded. Drawing on over 5,000 hours of footage, only a fraction of which is easily accessible to the public domain, this book offers a unique perspective on the strategies and battlegrounds of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
“After viewing thousands of hours of citizen-made video from the B’Tselem Camera Project archive, Liat Berdugo has written a complex and moving study of the Palestinian struggle for visibility and self-representation in the face of overwhelming Israeli military and media domination. Through a series of case studies, the book analyzes the different ways the video camera has been used by Palestinians and other media activists to counter the visual dominance of the Israeli regime. Meticulously researched and theoretically informed, it adds significantly to the study of grassroots activist media practices and the counter-tactics of visual representation when the camera has become weaponized.” – Jeffrey Skoller, Film & Media Studies, University of California, Berkeley, USA
“Berdugo’s entrance into the B’Tselem audio-visual archive is a passage into a thick forest of gazes, lenses and bullets, where vision is often impaired, and darkness prevails. But from this obscure night, Berdugo brilliantly proposes a taxonomy of cameras that illuminates new ways out of the political impasse that renders the violence in Israel-Palestine both spectacularly visible and systematically concealed. Extracting moments and fragments from the B’Tselem archive, Berdugo exposes yet another ‘order of things’, wherein cameras emancipate and shield inasmuch as they are wielded as weapons.” – Daniel Mann, King’s College London, UK
Feb 9, 2021 at 5:30pm PST — Virtual book launch hosted by San Francisco’s Booksmith and The Bindery. The event is free and open to the public, but RSVP is required!
Feb 25, 2021 at 5pm PST — OF CONSEQUENCE, a conversation between me and writer/scholar Linda Dittmar about the book hosted by Consequence, an international literary journal focused on the experiences of conflict and geopolitical violence. This event is free and open to the public, but RSVP is required!
About the author:
Liat Berdugo is Assistant Professor in Art and Architecture at the University of San Francisco. She is also an artist, writer and curator and has exhibited in galleries and festivals nationally and internationally. Her work has won several awards, including fellowships at the Hambidge Center, the Vermont Studio center, and a year-long residency in Tel Aviv, Israel, through the Dorot Foundation. More at www.liatberdugo.com.