During the Egyptian Revolution, beginning in 2011 and continuing throughout this project,, images were used to garner support for or against various movements. When viewers disagreed with the version of events suggested by the images, these viewers remained unmoved by them even if the image depicted violence or death. In order to understand how this is possible, this work undertakes a study of the intimate relationship between affect and the viewer's point-of view, also known as their “subjectivity" in the context of images from the Egyptian Revolution. The participants of this project were not passive observers, but rather almost instantaneously created meaning for the images based on the contents of the image, narratives they had heard about the image, and their own personal experiences. Each interview resulted in a clear pattern of expressiveness toward images that matched their subjectivities and indifference towards images that did not. They accepted and emoted about images that they interpreted as supportive of their perspective of the world; they rejected and dismissed images that they interpreted as contradictive of this perspective. Images that clashed with their subjectivity threatened the legitimacy of the ideologies they ascribed to and the groups they were loyal to. Therefore, viewers were indifferent towards images of violence or death because acceptance of these images involved acceptance of the world they suggested, which would threaten the legitimacy of the world that they were invested in. These results cast light on the nature of human bias, the creation of “us and them" mentalities, and the indifference towards the suffering of “the other". It also demonstrates that photo elicitation can be used as more than simply a catalyst for interviews on topics unrelated to images; it can consider the fundamental nature of the human experience of imagery.
MA in Sociology-Anthropology
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(2014).Feeling images: subjectivities and affective experience in the Egyptian revolution [Master’s thesis, the American University in Cairo]. AUC Knowledge Fountain.
Woodcock, Brice. Feeling images: subjectivities and affective experience in the Egyptian revolution. 2014. American University in Cairo, Master's thesis. AUC Knowledge Fountain.