Mobile Witnessing: Ethics and the Camera Phone in the War on Terror.

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60 Citations (Scopus)


Some of the first images rapidly circulated globally in news media of the London Bombings on 7 July 2005 were taken by non-journalists using mobile camera phones. This paper explores some of the ethical issues raised by mobile phone witnessing in the ‘war on terror’. The article uses a performative approach to witnessing in which mobile testimony is seen in terms of performances and speech acts between different parties, including mute witnesses, the survivor
witness and the witness(es) to the survivor (s). The approach enables us to see the significance of global mobilities and mobilizations in relation to ethics and mobile witnessing, rather than focusing only the ethics associated with the discrete mobile witness image itself. The article examines some of the global virtual traces and data trajectories on the World Wide Web associated with a mobile camera phone image taken by a witness survivor, Adam Stacey in the 7 July 2005 London Bombings. This suggests that mobile witnessing involves a fluid andtravelling involvement in data capture, data sharing, and receipt, through global networks mobilized through multiple mobilities. Mobile witnessing has trajectories across and moments
of emplacement between the self and the other, the individual and the group, the private and the public, the citizen and the professional journalist, the living body and the machine. In traversing the ordinary and the extraordinary, speech and speechlessness, mobile witnessing can involve engagement beyond mere spectatorship, establishing new ways of recording
events in the ‘war on terror’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61 – 76
Number of pages16
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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