Double Exposures: Perpetrators and the Uses of Photography
A special issue of the Journal of Perpetrator Research
This special issue of the Journal of Perpetrator Research, edited by Dr Susanne Knittel and Dr Stéphanie Benzaquen-Gautier, considers the past, present, and future uses of photography of and by perpetrators of mass violence, terrorism, genocide, and other forms of political violence.
Photographic images of perpetrators and their acts are produced for different purposes (documentation, evidence, self-promotion, propaganda, etc.) and come to us from different sources (journalists, victims, the perpetrators themselves, documents, archives, government agencies, etc.). But they all contribute to shaping the way we see and think about perpetrators and perpetration: the historical and cultural imaginary is saturated with images, some of which acquire iconic status.
While photographs undeniably play a crucial role in raising awareness about atrocities and other forms of mass violence, their omnipresence can on the one hand feed fascination and voyeurism, and on the other hand lead to decontextualization, inoculation, and trivialization. This means that we must think very carefully and critically about how photography is used, not only in the media but also in academic scholarship, at sites of memory, and in educational practice.