Our Memory Belongs to Us (Rami Farah and Signe Byrge Sørensen, 2021) reunites three activists from a failed revolution—Rani, Yadan, and Odai—in a theatre in Paris in 2019, where codirector Rami Farah plays footage they’d shot themselves during the Syrian revolution. Farah’s approach is one of critical generosity, in which the activists are made to reflect on their images from the past from the perspective of the present. As explored by Stefan Tarnowski in this essay, the resulting documentary directly addresses the activists’ ability to drive political transformations and assemble publics of humanitarian concern through image circulation.

In a book about the aftermath of a failed revolution, David Scott argued that “what our present solicits from us most urgently is an attunement to tragedy.”1 What this entails is not a diagnosis, from the benefit of hindsight, of the flaws that caused a movement’s defeat or demise. Instead, Scott argues that a scholar’s critical stance should be attuned to the fact that political action is always open to contingency and collision—which is as much the case in the present as it was in the past. He suggests that, when looking back at a past defeat or failure from the perspective of the present, one adopt a stance of critical generosity in an attempt to reconcile the present’s perspective with past struggles. Viewed through the dramatic arc of tragedy, the political projects of the past—as well as those ongoing in the present—can be seen as constituted by a series of decisions taken within a limited range of options on the basis of good reasons, for the sake of a just cause, even if they end in defeat.

It’s this kind of critical generosity attuned to tragedy that is so striking in Our Memory Belongs to Us (Rami Farah and Signe Byrge Sørensen, 2021). Our Memory reunites three activists from a failed revolution—Rani, Yadan, and Odai—in a theatre in Paris in 2019, where codirector Rami Farah plays them back footage they’d shot themselves during the revolution. Throughout the film, the three walk around their own images, projected at larger-than-life scale on the stage on which they’re standing. They reach toward the projected images to point out both themselves and their comrades, reminiscing about how, why, when, and where they shot the various clips. They’re present together—the ex-activists and their images from the past—on the stage. Farah walks around the projected images with them, asking the three activists difficult questions that prod them to reflect, from the perspective of the present, on the images from the past that loom over them.

The process is centered on the story of Deraa, the birthplace of the 2011 revolution and thus an iconic city for Syrians. Farah uses this formal arrangement to stage, physically, the dilemmas and predicaments faced by the media activist (al-nashit) in Syria, a key figure in the country’s history for the last decade. The film’s formal setup—activists confronted by their own images projected in large scale and questioned by a director who also appears on-screen beside those images—resembles that of another recent film, Khaled Abdulwahed’s Jellyfish (2015). Both films are concerned with the failures of media activism. But where Abdulwahed was inclined to uncover moments of deception by activists, such as exaggerating the number of dead or wounded, or neglecting to depict atrocities by rebel groups, Farah’s questioning is critical yet generous.

Our Memory is saturated with loss: the activists’ loss of their country after their forced displacement, the loss of their friends and comrades killed by the Assad regime, and the loss of their revolution. But at the film’s tragic core is a central predicament: a loss of certainty regarding the footage that the activists smuggled out of Syria on hard drives as their most prized possessions. This central predicament reveals how an ostensibly virtuous act can be turned by those in power into its opposite, into something like a tragic flaw: how risking one’s life to document and circulate crimes and violations committed by a state against its own people can be turned into proof that a secular state is fighting terrorists.

“Did you really believe that an image of a protest could overthrow the regime?” Farah asks this question roughly halfway through the film, directly addressing the activist’s ability to drive political transformations and assemble publics of humanitarian concern through image circulation. It’s a question that also encapsulates the pessimism of the present when confronted with the optimism of the past. It’s hard to imagine—after the rise of Trump, Brexit, ISIS, and endless accusations of fake news—that just ten years ago there was a widespread belief that new media technologies harnessed by activists had revolutionary potential.2 The last ten years in Syria are in many ways central to the changing attitudes toward new media technologies.

Images of protests in Our Memory Belong to Us. Courtesy of Final Cut for Real.

Images of protests in Our Memory Belong to Us. Courtesy of Final Cut for Real.

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Farah and Sørensen include Bashar al-Assad’s speech to the Syrian parliament, delivered in March 2011, a couple of weeks after the first protests began in Deraa, in which he shamelessly claims that there is no uprising, no revolution, just a media conspiracy orchestrated by satellite TV channels and social-media platforms. “Those are the media [al-wasa’il] they use,” Assad hisses in the speech. “It’s an organized structure, with media groups, fake groups abroad, and false witnesses abroad who’ve been organized beforehand.” Here is an early iteration of all the accusations of “fake news” that have since come to dominate populist and authoritarian discourse. This accusation would soon be joined by the regime’s constant refrain that they were fighting “armed gangs” and “terrorists” and, brazenly, that the media activists and peaceful protestors themselves were in fact terrorists.

As such speeches indicate, the media activist has been a deeply contested figure in the history of Syria in the years since 2011. Our Memory stages the discourses articulating the figure of the activist, and their footage. One character in particular, Abu Nimer (a pseudonym), who is not there on-stage with the other three activists, captures this figure’s trajectory.

His story resembles so many I heard while conducting fieldwork in 2018–19 with Syrian and Palestinian-Syrian activists in Turkey, Lebanon, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany. Most activists, like Abu Nimer, had no professional training; as Yadan explains, “He wasn’t a reporter, he became a reporter overnight.” But like Abu Nimer, they were driven by a visceral belief in the need to document using any camera technology available: “mobile phone camera, button-hole camera, camera hidden in a box of tissues in his car, professional camera and masked face. Filming was all that mattered,” Farah’s voice-over recounts.

With no professional training, activists like Abu Nimer would risk their lives to meticulously document the victims of regime snipers; the peaceful protests met with gunfire; the shelling of civilian neighborhoods; the arrest, torture, disappearing, and killing of protesters from the street. Many of these clips are projected on the stage in Paris. Those images, Farah explains, “are seared into our minds, a fear we whisper about, we who were neither arrested nor disappeared. During the revolution, those images became our daily reality.” One such searing clip shows the corpse of a protestor being kept cool with ice frozen inside plastic soda bottles, the melting ice dripping into a pale red puddle on the floor. Our Memory then cuts to the three ex-activists on-stage, who explain that the hospital morgues were controlled by the Assad regime’s security forces and therefore too dangerous to access.

Facing the fear of torture, in Our Memory Belongs to Us.

Facing the fear of torture, in Our Memory Belongs to Us.

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As the uprising continued, activists found themselves finessing the skills of online activism and documentation under the most dangerous of circumstances, sometimes finding employment with satellite news stations in the process. Rani explains that Abu Nimer “became a formal reporter for Al Jazeera; he went to Jordan for a week and did a course around June 2012.” But the training was obviously quick and cursory; bloopers of Abu Nimer’s attempts at producing professionalized news reports are hilarious and touching, lampooning Assad’s refrain of a media conspiracy. One in particular shows Abu Nimer in front of a crowd after a peaceful protest, sporting a fake beard and sunglasses so as to protect himself and his family from any reprisals. By the end of half a dozen takes, he is still fluffing his lines, while the crowd can be seen mouthing the script. The documentary cuts back to the ex-activists watching the footage on a stage in Paris in 2019 and laughing uproariously.

Farah’s more somber voice-over summarizes that persevering was what mattered most:

They would protest, get killed, protest again. Cameras would keep filming to tell the world that the revolution was ongoing. The fate of the revolution hangs on images of the protests. A society being born, and created, in front of a camera.

Or so the activists thought at the time. This conviction regarding the power of their images soon gives way to a realization that these clips don’t always reach their intended audience; that images, however obvious their message may be to the activists, might not speak for themselves. And there’s no guarantee they will be understood by “the world,” as the activists intended. More gravely, that the activists’ images can be used against them to undermine the very reasons the footage is being produced and circulated in the first place.

Rani, Yadan, and Odai watch images of a “revolutionary soirée” they attended.

Rani, Yadan, and Odai watch images of a “revolutionary soirée” they attended.

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The next clip that Rami Farah plays for the three veteran activists shows a meeting of revolutionaries. Rani, Yadan, and Odai charmingly call the meeting a “revolutionary soirée” (sahra thawriyya), and the images show revolutionary flags draped on the walls in a quaintly amateurish way. Al Jazeera broadcast the meeting live, with Abu Nimer presenting it. All three activists are present in the clip too, and they reach up to point themselves out in the paused image on-stage with them. Abu Nimer asks one of the burning questions of the day: “What do you say to people who might fear the fall of the regime, especially those from minorities, like the dignified Alawites, or our Christian brothers?”

One of the masked men answers without hesitation, and perhaps slightly woodenly: “Our revolution is a revolution for all Syrians, not for one specific sect. We won’t accept other countries in the region coming to settle their sectarian scores in Syria … and we started it to demand a civil state, where all citizens are equal in their rights and duties.” His words are pluralistic, secular, antisectarian, and, in the context, revolutionary. But the images show a group of masked men—and only men—sitting cross-legged in a semicircle around the edge of a room surrounded by flags.

“How do you think people viewed this?” Rami Farah asks back on-stage. “Ugly, ugly; it’s an ugly image,” Yadan quickly replies. “It wasn’t ugly at all,” Odai interrupts:

You asked why we were masked? You say it’s not pretty? It is pretty! I was scared for my family. You were scared for your family. We were all scared for our families! This was filmed at the end of 2011, and there were no terrorists or radical groups in Syria. It was called a revolution and everyone knew that. Even the US ambassador visited Hama and called it a revolution; other countries did the same, too. Our identity was known. There weren’t even any weapons.

Yadan disagrees: “An American citizen doesn’t know any of that. He couldn’t even find Syria on a map. Unless you told him it was next to Israel. They don’t know us.” They’re both right; it’s both an ugly and an inspiring image. But perhaps most importantly, as Yadan notes, it’s an ambiguous image that “an American citizen” would struggle to decode. And it’s precisely that ambiguity within the image that contains its potential for discursive rearticulation by the regime.

It’s at this point that Farah asks the activists his perplexed question about whether they truly believed images could bring down the regime. They interpret the question as asking who the audience for these images was: “The protests were the messages we Syrians were sending to each other,” Yadan claims. But Rani suggests the audience is global: “At the beginning of the events, [Western] countries sympathized with us, right?” Odai explains:

As an ordinary citizen, what do you have other than your voice and your pen? As a protestor, I have nothing, as a boy from the streets of the [southern province of] Hawran, other than my voice and my pen. And then I had a camera, in order to document. What else did we have available to us? What capacities did we have? What did we have ready to hand? And anyway, at that point, there was no going back. If we went home, we’d all be killed. There was no return, we had to continue with our revolution.

Syrian activists simply didn’t have options. But Farah’s question touches on the workings of power within discourse, while also opening up theoretical questions regarding the formation of publics through the use of new media technologies to circulate images.

Scholars of media activism and human rights video have argued that the assumption of a causal link between the mediation of public suffering and demands for intervention involves a kind of naive idealism. Thomas Keenan called it “Enlightenment faith,” describing “the lockstep logic of if-then, in which knowledge generates action (reaction),” and drawing a long chronology in the relations between suffering, publicity, and human rights discourse.3 Much of this scholarship emerged during an era of “humanitarian interventions” in, for example, Bosnia, Somalia, Rwanda, and Kosovo. In the alignment of satellite news coverage and humanitarian discourse with Western military intervention, the suggestion was often that activists and journalists were aligned with power, or complicit in producing a “hegemonic” discourse.4 Didier Fassin argued that “[h]umanitarian action has in fact become a major modality and a dominant frame of reference for Western political intervention in scenes of misfortune throughout the world,” effectively extending the era of humanitarian intervention to the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.5

While this scholarship might have outlined a dominant discourse in the wake of the fall of the Berlin wall, by the time the Syrian revolution began in 2011, two changes had taken place, only one of which is generally noted. The first was technological, involving the introduction of smartphones and social media. It’s this change that’s debated at length, with a wide range of scholars asking whether these networks and devices create democratic or “horizontal” alternatives to the hierarchies of “legacy media,” and thus could make all the difference in driving struggles against state power.6

The second is less discussed. By 2011, the era of humanitarian military interventions had ended and the “War on Terror” had already been going for a decade. Although it generally isn’t remarked upon, the era is marked by a fundamental difference in the relations between human rights discourse and power. Briefly, post-9/11 is an era when human rights discourses and humanitarian reason are no longer the hegemonic or even dominant logics being used to justify military interventions. Instead, intervention is now justified by overarching security concerns and an amorphous terror threat, generally considered endemic to the Middle East and intrinsic to Islam.7 This shift has had a profound effect on the way that human rights video is received and acted upon globally. It’s notable in Syria, for example, that Western military intervention came only in response to ISIS and its execution videos, not in response to the millions of clips documenting war crimes and human rights violations at the hands of the Syrian regime produced by the likes of Yadan, Rani, Odai, and their comrade Abu Nimer.

Rather than considering the discursive shifts entailed by the onset of the “War on Terror,” scholars of human rights video have focused on frustrations with the fact that activists’ images don’t elicit the right kind of reaction, detailing dangers that range from compassion fatigue to overexposure, indifference, and voyeurism. Technical and aesthetic questions of address have dominated—with Keenan, for example, noting that witnessing publics are formed in the process of circulation, but that the circuit between sender and receiver is neither transparent nor guaranteed:

If the public means us, us in our exposure to others, then today “we” cannot be something given in advance, not the sum total of all of us somewhere or sometime, not a community or a people but rather something that comes after the image, a possibility of response to an open address. The public, we could say in short-hand, is what is hailed or addressed by messages that might not reach their destination…. [W]e could even say that what defines the public is the possibility of being a target and of being missed.8

A revolution in the shadows, in Our Memory Belongs to Us. Courtesy of Final Cut for Real.

A revolution in the shadows, in Our Memory Belongs to Us. Courtesy of Final Cut for Real.

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For Keenan, it’s in the essential nature of media circulation to address its audience in the conditional tense. In other words, these concerns take a somewhat abstract form: there’s an aesthetic address, and an address of the medium, both of which might succeed or fail in forming a public of concern; even if a humanitarian public does coalesce, there’s no guarantee that it will react in the way that an activist who circulated a video intended.

But beyond these concerns, Keenan’s media theory is missing any account of why some images hit their target while other images don’t. The power of Our Memory—with its method of putting activists on-stage with their images and forcing them to reflect on how the process of production and circulation works—is precisely that it poses these questions. It’s a method, and a line of questioning, that Rami Farah describes in the concluding voice-over as a “difficult and violent experience.”

For Farah and his collaborator Sørensen, it isn’t enough to contend that sometimes failing to coalesce a public of concern is merely intrinsic to Enlightenment public spheres (despite a promise of transparent communication as the basis for rational deliberation and action). They question activists about why images that share the same material and technical form, and often with very similar content, sometimes hit the target and at other times don’t. They show that it’s urgent—because in the end, the stakes for Syrians couldn’t have been higher—to analyze why a discourse like humanitarianism, once considered hegemonic or at least dominant, can today be met with doubt and suspicion.

The activist in Syria is stranded, so to speak, in a discursive crossfire. However entrenched the activists’ humanitarian discourse undoubtedly is, structuring the circulation of images, the grammar of their statements, and their acts, they know full well that they’re confronted by a counterdiscourse rearticulating their images, acts, and statements. There’s a clip of Rani, for example, that the assembled activists standing on-stage watch, speechless. He’s sitting cross-legged in an activist hideout in Deraa sometime in early 2012. He explains that he’s been “homeless” for eight months, changing hideouts every couple of days. Yadan, who’s also there in the clip, is already prodding Rani to reflect on the decisions he’s made and the options that remain open to him:


Why did you join the revolution?


I had to, because we’re challenging Assad’s tyranny and oppression.


What would happen if you were arrested?


They would torture and kill me. They’ve already threatened me.


What have you done for them to want to kill you? Are you a criminal? Did you commit a crime?


No, I just took part in protests and filmed them. So they accused me of being a terrorist, that I’d blown up cars. But all I did was film protests and circulate the images.

The accusation that activists were terrorists wasn’t simply a mechanism to prevent humanitarian intervention; it was also a means to legitimize the killing of activists. The accusation of terrorism to legitimize extrajudicial killing, of course, has been a central feature of the “War on Terror.”

Since 2011, Syrian activists and filmmakers have been rigorously asking themselves why their images haven’t been working the way they intended. It’s striking that their answers bear almost no resemblance to those provided by scholars writing about the relationship between human rights video and post-Enlightenment public spheres.

One of the most prominent and forthright analyses has been by Abounaddara, a group of anonymous Syrian filmmakers. In an early editorial titled “Respectons le droit à l’image” and published in Libération, Abounaddara argued that there was “a confusion of images that benefits Bashar al-Assad at the expense of tens of thousands of his proven victims.”9 Assad gives stately interviews in the media, Abounaddara explain, where he’s portrayed as too well-dressed, soft-spoken and, quite frankly, secular to be a convincing tyrant. Revolutionaries, on the other hand, sport beards, shout “Allahu Akbar,” and wield weapons. They’re too violent and religious to represent a just cause. “Looking at these images broadcast by the mainstream media,” Abounaddara observes, “it is hard not to be seized by doubt.” With this observation, Abounaddara could have been discussing the “revolutionary soirée” broadcast on Al Jazeera.

Instead of these “dubious images [images douteuses],” Abounaddara would later argue for images that “respect human dignity,” especially in the treatment of Syrian victims in the Western media.10 Eventually, Abounaddara would attempt to find a solution to this discursive doubt and inequality of treatment by calling for “a right to the image,” the regulation—both legal and normative—of the kinds of images that should circulate, so as to protect the vulnerable from the powerful. In essence, Abounaddara offer an analysis of discursive power in the process of the circulation and reception of images. They’re aware that the Syrian regime can defend itself, with the unwitting help of Western media, by calling—misleadingly, of course—on a powerful discourse of secularism in the face of atavistic, violent, and terrorist Islam.

Rani Al Masalman’s story, in Our Memory Belongs to Us. Courtesy of Final Cut for Real.

Rani Al Masalman’s story, in Our Memory Belongs to Us. Courtesy of Final Cut for Real.

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But what if, as Meg McLagan writes, media technologies are “not merely conduits for social forces and do not simply express social realities, but possess a logic and power that is itself constitutive of thought, identity, and action”?11 McLagan suggests, in other words, that the medium itself has a certain logic that might elude well-meaning attempts at regulation, even if formulated precisely to guarantee certain kinds of uptake. In addition, what if Abounaddara’s awareness that rearticulation by power is intrinsic to the politics of discourse still stands—as Althusser, Foucault, Stuart Hall, and countless others have all emphasized? If both these points stand, then the process of circulation can never be fully regulated precisely because of the nature of the medium; and even if it were to be regulated, a victim of a war crime or human rights abuse could still be rearticulated as a terrorist by a state power tapping into a global “War on Terror” discourse. What are the possibilities for critical thought, or for political action, against the background of this impasse?

This is where an “attunement to tragedy” can help, even if it’s not a solution for how to make media more transparent, nor even for how to make the politics of discourse more just. Instead, it’s about approaching the actions, reasons, and intentions of activists with a critical generosity—even, or especially, when their projects have ended in loss and defeat. As David Scott has argued,

[S]uch a perspective can help, from one side, to unsettle our confidence in that consoling image of human agency as self-sufficient and self-determining and, from the other, to give pause to our inclination to see ourselves as merely determined by forces larger than ourselves. From a tragic perspective we are both authors and authored, but it is never self-evident when we are more one than the other.12

This, I think, is what Our Memory invites viewers to do. Instead of considering activists versed in the discourse of humanitarianism and human rights to be naive, anachronistic, complicit, overly idealistic—or worse—the film invites viewers to view these activists as “both authors and authored.” The actions of Syrian activists, viewed through the dramatic arc of tragedy, are constituted by a series of decisions taken within a limited range of options on the basis of good reasons and for the sake of a just cause. Even when their options were severely constrained—by the brutality of the regime’s bombardment, by the cunning of the regime’s deployment of a “War on Terror” discourse, by the constraints of humanitarian discourse, by the technologies ready to hand, by the regimes of circulation imposed by the media industry—the activists clung to a margin of freedom.

There’s a scene of Yadan walking through his abandoned neighborhood, which has been reduced to ruins by shelling and bombardment. The clip on the hard drive, Farah relates, was labeled as a “one-man protest.” Yadan faces away from the camera to hide his identity for fear of reprisal, holding a sign: “No matter how much you bomb, I’m not leaving my home. My freedom is worth more than my blood.” Yadan filmed and circulated the clip almost a decade ago, not because he believed it would bring down the regime. Even in the midst of all this defeat and destruction, regime power has stopped him from facing the camera, and yet Yadan still clings to one of the few options available: to stay, to refuse to be displaced, to circulate images of his lonely refusal. Eventually, of course, he loses even that choice, that narrowest of margins, in the face of the Russian and Assad regimes’ military might.13

Rami Farah’s Our Memory Belongs to Us does not depict just any kind of tragedy. It doesn’t fit Hegel’s model of tragic collision, for it’s not an account of two equally valid yet incompatible notions of the good coming into conflict. Nor does it fit the Aristotelian model, for it’s not an account of characters doomed to defeat by dint of their tragic flaws, their hamartias. It’s both a generous and a bleak kind of tragedy, one attuned to the workings of power. Farah’s documentary suggests that a character’s best and even most redeeming qualities or virtues can become the cause of their downfall, or peripeteia, once discovered and exploited by the powerful. As a result, this is a kind of tragedy that is sympathetic to the plight of its actors despite their defeat. Our Memory Belongs to Us tells the story of activists whose images documenting the state’s crimes get spun into a story about a secular regime fighting terrorists. They’re both authors and authored, but unequally so.

Toward the end of the film, Rami Farah plays the activists another clip they had shot themselves. It shows that activists in Deraa had finally taken up arms to seize a gray concrete tower from which a regime sniper had terrorized the people of Deraa for months. It’s another “ugly” image, albeit a revolutionary one.


Odai, how were revolutionaries perceived after they took up arms?


I’m not in the mood, I don’t know.


Would you like to say why?


I don’t know. I’m beyond all those details. We can’t reduce such a big question to a thirty second clip.

Eventually, Odai relents, and describes the decision to take up arms. He goes into dizzying detail: the attempts to circulate videos to call upon the international community, the United Nations, and the Arab League for protection; the formation of the Free Syrian Army by military defectors who return to their communities to defend peaceful protestors; and finally, the regime’s successful ploy of releasing Islamists from its prisons—who go on to found major Islamist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and Jaysh al-Islam—to make good on its claim to be fighting terrorism. It’s a bitter, exhausting, and tragic narrative. Odai concludes:

The international community saw the atrocities in Syria, and they’re holding me accountable for picking up a rifle? What do you want from me? Why do you want to turn one of the greatest revolutions the world has ever seen into what you call a civil war? It’s not a civil war, nor is it an armed conflict. It’s a revolution! For Syrians, it’s a revolution and it will always be a revolution. Regardless of how the world labels our revolution, it’s a revolution. And it always will be.

After the tragedy of humanitarian activism in Syria, for Yadan, Rani, and Odai, a tragedy of history would be to allow the Syrian revolution to be remembered as a war. Then, their memory would no longer belong to them. Farah’s film is an attempt to make sure that this tragedy, at least, remains unwritten.


David Scott, Omens of Adversity: Tragedy, Time, Memory, Justice (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014), 2.


See, for example, Manuel Castells, Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age (Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2012).


Thomas Keenan, “Mobilizing Shame,” South Atlantic Quarterly 103, nos. 2–3 (Spring/Summer 2004): 435–49. See also Sharon Sliwinski, “The Aesthetics of Human Rights,” Culture, Theory and Critique 50, no. 1 (April 1, 2009): 23–39; and Meg McLagan and Yates McKee, eds., Sensible Politics: The Visual Culture of Nongovernmental Activism (New York and Cambridge, MA: Zone Books, 2012).


Robert Meister, After Evil: A Politics of Human Rights (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011).


Didier Fassin, Humanitarian Reason: A Moral History of the Present (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011), 223.


These two schools of thought have been applied to Syria since 2011. On the optimism that new media technologies are a liberatory force in struggles with the state, see Castells, Networks of Outrage and Hope; Peter Snowdon, “The Revolution Will Be Uploaded: Vernacular Video and the Arab Spring,” Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research 6, no. 2 (April 1, 2014): 401–29; and Zaher Omareen and Chad Elias, “Syria’s Imperfect Cinema,” in Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline, ed. Malu Halasa, Zaher Omareen, and Nawara Mahfoud (London: Saqi Books, 2014). For pessimistic readings about the role of new media technologies in the Syrian revolution, or at least ones that consider a wider variety of uses for those technologies, see Omar Al-Ghazzi, “‘Citizen Journalism’ in the Syrian Uprising: Problematizing Western Narratives in a Local Context,” Communication Theory 24, no. 4 (November 1, 2014): 435–54; Dima Saber and Paul Long, “‘I Will Not Leave, My Freedom Is More Precious than My Blood’: From Affect to Precarity; Crowd-Sourced Citizen Archives as Memories of the Syrian War,” Archives and Records 38, no. 1 (Spring 2017): 80–99; Donatella Della Ratta, Shooting a Revolution: Visual Media and Warfare in Syria (London: Pluto Press, 2018); Lisa Wedeen, Authoritarian Apprehensions: Ideology, Judgment, and Mourning in Syria (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019); and Kari Andén-Papadopoulos, “Producing Image Activism after the Arab Uprisings: Introduction,” International Journal of Communication 14 (2020): 5010–20.


See Joseph Masco, The Theater of Operations: National Security Affect from the Cold War to the War on Terror (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014).


Thomas Keenan, “Publicity and Indifference (Sarajevo on Television),” PMLA 117, no. 1 (January 2002): 107–8.


Abounaddara, “Respectons le droit à l‘image pour le peuple syrien,” Libération, January 22, 2013, www.liberation.fr/planete/2013/01/22/respectons-le-droit-a-l-image-pour-le-peuple-syrien_875915.


Abounaddara, “Syrie: La guerre au temps du télévampirisme,” Libération, December 14, 2014, www.liberation.fr/planete/2014/12/14/syrie-la-guerre-au-temps-du-televampirisme_1163470.


Meg McLagan, “Human Rights, Testimony, and Transnational Publicity,” in Nongovernmental Politics, ed. Michel Feher (New York and Cambridge, MA: Zone Books, 2007), 306.


David Scott, “The Tragic Vision in Postcolonial Time,” PMLA 129, no. 4 (October 2014): 802.


For another reading of this clip, and an attempt to conceptualize this same hard drive of images from Deraa as a “refugee archive,” see Saber and Long, “‘I Will Not Leave.’” The article also explains that a few months after this “one-month protest,” Yadan was forced to flee across the southern border to Zaatari, the Syrian refugee camp in Jordan.