Thesis: Melamed, Israeli Homemade Video Memorials and the Politics of Loss

Melamed, Laliv. Sovereign Intimacy: Israeli Homemade Video Memorials and the Politics of Loss, PhD dissertation. New York: New York University, 2015.
 
URL: http://gradworks.umi.com/37/40/3740826.html
 
Abstract

Sovereign Intimacy takes as its subject of investigation video memorialization of dead Israeli soldiers done by their close family and friends. Mixing private loss, home-made video production, military conduct, state politics, and an institutionalized commemoration, it redraws the affinities between affective intimacy and forms of governing. It delineates the reshaping of sovereignty by filial relationships, video practicing and aesthetics, state and military administration of death and mass media. Sovereign Intimacy inquires into the political currencies of mourning and loss.

The videos respond to an event triggered by operations of state violence—figured by military power—with a personal lamenting of the breaking of intimate ties. These videos are made by the family and for the family, through amateur and semi-amateur modes of production. Although they were meant to be privately circulated, this phenomenon emerged in tandem to the videos being broadcast on television during the events of the National Memorial Day.

Home-made video memorials become a standard of Israeli memorialization during the 1990s. Largely the result of waning public support of the Israeli occupation of the south of Lebanon, and of a growing disavowal of state authority, the phenomenon represented a potential challenge to hegemonic narratives and aesthetic forms, through the appropriation of memory and means of production. However, it did not make way to a new political voice to emerge. Instead, these videos emotionalized violence and victimized its deliverers. Furthermore, the broadcasting of the videos on television—allegedly as a tribute to the families, a communal gesture of listening and a call for solidarity—participated in a national economy of death in which the lives of Lebanese, Palestinians and marginalized people within Israeli society had no value. Lastly, the phenomenon of memorial videos normalized the growing militarization of civil society and neutralized any call for political action.

 

 

 

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