They’re about more than narcissism; they’re also tools for political self-identification.
What follows is the second installment of a Q&A with authors Rebecca L. Stein, Adi Kunstman, and Negar Mottahedeh on the politicized use of selfies in contemporary political and social solidarity-building campaigns. All three have studied the use of social media in the context of Middle Eastern politics; Stein and Kuntsman, co-authors of Digital Militarism, have studied the use of social media in the Israeli occupation, while Mottahedeh, writing in #iranelection, chronicles how Iran’s post election crisis of 2009 achieved international notoriety as a result of its momentum on social media. You can see Part I of this Q&A here.
What are some of the most interesting cases of selfie activism that you’ve encountered?
ADI KUNSTMAN & REBECCA STEIN: Over the course of the last five years, we’ve watched the militarized selfie gradually grow and spread—a genre used both by soldiers in the Israeli military and by Israeli civilians as well. When we first encountered the phenomenon in 2010, before the massive global proliferation of the selfie, mobile self-portraits of soldiers in contexts of military violence were considered exceptional and scandalous. Early instances of selfie militarism included Facebook photographs of soldiers posing in Palestinian homes during routine raids, or in front of blindfolded and cuffed detainees at checkpoints. These early cases shocked the Israeli public and were deemed social aberrations, exceptions to Israel’s “moral army” and the national ethos of “purity of arms.”