Industrial scale torture. Systematic, massive killings and displacement. Skyrocketing poverty, childhood malnutrition, birth defects. Scarcity of power, sanitation, food and water. Having sustained nearly two decades of U.S.-led war, sanctions, and occupation, life in Iraq has become unbearably miserable and desperate. Yet while official U.S. advocacy for "never-ending war" in Iraq and its Middle Eastern environs has only intermittently wavered, popular U.S. support for the prospect has drastically waned. Indeed the U.S. government and its allies face an unprecedented legitimation crisis over their decades-long military rampage throughout Middle Eastern regions considered key to Western control and dominance of global labor and resources.
Corporate and mainstream media and film have been instrumental in attempting to contain this crisis by propagating rationales and justifications for the ongoing war and occupation. As S. K. Gupta writes in the November 2007 issue of Z Magazine, for instance, continued U.S. perpetration of a "never-ending war" that is largely responsible for a "hellish existence for Iraqi civilians" would be impossible "unless a majority of the public believed G.I.s are there to protect Iraqis" (24). Sadly, this and similar rationales are prevalent and widespread, and where they are not, public expressions of protest and critique are subject to increasingly sophisticated techniques of suppression and surveillance aimed at stifling principled dissent and fragmenting organized resistance to the war.
Contributions are sought for a special issue of the International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies that will address critically the role and function of media and film, both Western and Arab, in legitimizing--as well as possibly averting--continued U.S.-led war and occupation in Iraq and beyond. Papers might elucidate the corporate media institutions, strategies and tactics through which ideological and discursive rationales for perpetual war are produced and disseminated for film and media audiences internationally. They might explicate how moving-image technologies instrumental to such ends are concomitantly instrumental to the development and implementation of surveillance and torture in both Euro/America and Iraq. They might consider how Iraqis are represented in these instances, and how their aesthetic constructions are inscribed both literally and figuratively, through and across the institutional structures and cinematic/televisual practices facilitating and enacting today's veritable Western crusade. They might speculate upon the significance of such inscriptions to the relative failure or success of particular social systems engaged historically in travestying world peace and justice. And they might explore the various alternative representations and modalities that have emerged against the war from the political margins via digital media and the Internet.
Terri Ginsberg, Ph.D.
Film Studies Program
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC USA
Tareq Ismael, Ph.D.
Department of Political Science
University of Calgary
Calgary, Alberta, ON CANADA
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