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Rebel Lives, photographs from inside the Lord's Resistance Army

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Why and how do rebels take photographs, and which functions do photos serve within a rebel movement? This is the central question of my presentation, which will reflect on my recently published book and exhibition ‘Rebel Lives. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) from the inside.’ This project is mainly based on photographs taken by commanders from the Lord’s Resistance Army between 2001 and 2004, and which I have been collecting over a number of years. Based on fieldwork among the (surviving) portrayed rebels which were traced and identified, this presentation will deal with issues of representation and functionality of these photos, on both an individual- and group-level. The project therefore is not only a visual record of the everydayness of living in a violent rebel movement, but allows to reflect on broader issues: one the one hand, these photographs allow individual rebels to (self) represent themselves in ways which are not different from non-militarized environments – emphasising issues such as masculinity or femininity, and so on. On the other hand, these photographs are not only a form representation, but also reflect and entrench wider power structures within the rebel movement. Concretely, they serve a variety of other functions, which are not only military, but also as a tool of (positive and negative) socialisation.

This talk is part of the Centre of African Studies Lent Seminar Series series.

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