Connective Witnessing: Reconfiguring the Relationship Between the Individual and the Collective
This article proposes the term 'connective witnessing' to designate the prevalent form of witnessing today that combines personalized political participation and connective action in the recording and sharing of visual documentation. Connective witnessing manifests itself in various situations, prompting the production and distribution of eyewitness images on a large scale, for example, citizens contributing to crisis communication and news coverage of man-made or natural catastrophe. Civic action has been chosen as the empirical example in this article because it constitutes a fairly new-coming and rapidly developing domain of connective witnessing. Connective witnessing merges two distinct scholarly traditions, concerned with, respectively, witnessing in and through media and the deployment of digital communication technologies by protest movements. Drawing on these two traditions, the article develops a theoretical framework for understanding connective witnessing, which is exemplified through analysis of images produced and disseminated by protesters on Ireport, CNN.com's platform for citizen reporting.