Numéro 22

On Visual Evidence

Picturing Forced Displacement in Northern Sudan

Page 100
Valerie Hänsch, Osman M.

The advance of digital technology, portable video cameras, and smartphones as well as the global circulation of images, have spurred the vernacular capturing of events aiming at the production of visual evidence. Victims, participants or bystanders record videos and take pictures to testify against crimes and human rights abuses. These images are distributed via social media networks and TV-channels. Such visual forms of documenting and witnessing are claims of truth telling which can be traced back to realist understandings of pictures. Videos and photographs are inscribed with the ability to present reality directly and objectively rather than being regarded as mediation that rests on specific indexical signs. This belief in the truth of pictures, which is also prominent in the conventional dis- course on documentary forms, reflects the idea that photos/videos can capture reality in the same way as our eyes can see it.

Valerie Hänsch is an anthropologist and filmmaker. She examines the relationship between infrastructures, uncertainty and crisis. Her work in the Sudan includes several collaborative audio-visual projects and documentaries. She holds a PhD from the Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS) and is currently replacing the Juniorprofessor for Culture and Technology in Africa at Bayreuth University.
Universität Bayreuth, 
Fakultät für Kulturwissenschaften, Lehrstuhl Ethnologie, 
D-95440 Bayreuth