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Title: The (in)visibilities of torture : political torture and visual evidence in U.S. and Chilean fiction cinema (2004-2014)
Author: Jung, Berenike Christiane
ISNI:       0000 0004 5921 9832
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis explores how selected contemporary U.S. and Chilean films and television shows depict political torture, in relation to visual documentation of factual cases. The films explore the uneasy complicity in seeing or watching torture, which concerns both the spectacle of cinema, the nature of torture as well as the position of the audience or witness. Casting a wider net on the definition of torture, I suggest that these media products can help broaden our comprehension of the event torture, in its collective and emotional dimension, its long-term social effects as well as its links to other cultural concepts. Moving beyond dominant and limiting frameworks based on representation and identification, this thesis integrates affect, film and media theory with textual analysis. Some of these films and television shows offer a public and emotional space to explore subject positions crucial to acknowledge a sense of social pain, often missing in official accounts. These films’ heterogeneous aesthetic responses speak to a similar set of epistemological and ontological queries, which are fundamentally related to the truth claims of images. In its inherent need for an ethical stand and trust in documented truth, torture offers a research axis to discuss current anxieties regarding the reliability of visual evidence, coinciding with a historical moment that interrogates (moving) images’ powers and reliability to document the real. Ethical questions regarding documentation are reconfigured in epistemological terms. If vision is problematic as means of verification, how do the films pursue authenticity, and what kind of truth do they offer? Responding to current interventions regarding the nature of the cinematic medium, the films propose a new poetics of the real that does not rely primarily on visual evidence. I argue that in a situation of contested, censored or plainly missing documentation, these films produce a “cine-poetic archive,” images that highlight both their constructedness and their roots in the historical real. In this way, the films help understand something fundamental about how we relate to our current reality through our images.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PN1993 Motion Pictures