Strategic Witnessing in an Age of Video Activism
Witnessing is infused in ethical and legal discourses that operate within the matrix of knowledge, responsibility, and action. Through an analysis of the non-governmental organization WITNESS, this article shows how this matrix has been at the heart of the development of professionalized human rights video activism that emphasizes goal-driven, tactical and audience-oriented approaches to witness documentation. By professionalizing video activism, human rights organizations like WITNESS configure the act of bearing witness as a form of social activism that differs from longstanding modes of activist involvement. Using the term strategic witnessing to describe this development, this article suggests a conceptual framework through which we can think about evolving forms of media witnessing in the contemporary media moment.