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'Standard Operating Procedure', 'the mystery of photography' and the politics of pity
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-08, 05:35 authored by Thomas AustinThomas Austin
This essay focuses on Errol Morris's documentary Standard Operating Procedure (2008). I consider the film's significance as an investigation of the abuse of Iraqi inmates by US personnel at Abu Ghraib prison, and as an examination of the uses and limitations of photography as visible evidence. Drawing on Luc Boltanski's work on the politics of pity, I argue that the film's achievements are ultimately limited, not only by its particular organization of the ‘topics’ of aesthetics, sentiment and denunciation, but also by the fact that, in listening to and (partially) reframing the torturers, it leaves their victims in continuing silence.
PublisherOxford University Press
Department affiliated with
- Media and Film Publications
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