The Power of War Photography: Impact, Censorship, Crisis

By: Edith Georgi  

In this presentation I will examine the impact of war photography, focusing initially on the Vietnam War. Between Vietnam and the present era of wars, there has been a remarkable shift towards censorship of war photography so that the earlier and powerful impact is no longer felt. For example, the Pulitzer prize-winning photo, "Napalm Girl" is considered to be a critical factor in turning US public opinion and policy against the war. Recently, censorship in the Iran/ Iraq wars, among others, has hidden the atrocities in the same way that torture at Abu Ghraib was described in the milder terms of "abuse" and "humiliation." The result is the crisis that we now experience as we encounter the devastating effects of war trauma on our veterans, the blind spots in public awareness of contemporary wars, and the dulling of sensitivity to war and genocide. My intent is to show the importance of photography as a means of educating, shaping public opinion and policy, and ultimately influencing decisions to wage war. There are too many photojournalists who have given their lives for the principles of exposing the horrors of war. The professional stories of martyrs such as Tim Hetherington and too many others demonstrate commitment to the principle that the reality must be shown. The various levels of censorship are examined, but most importantly, exposing the harmful impact of such censorship is the goal of this paper.

War, Photography, Photojournalism, Censorship, Art
2020 Special Focus - Against the Grain: Arts and the Crisis of Democracy
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Edith Georgi

Graduate Student, Dept. of Religious Studies, Florida International University, United States
United States

After 35 years in the courtroom as a criminal defense attorney, I returned to school to study religion. Previously had a MA in Chinese Studies before my law career. Active in teaching law and hope to teach law and religion very soon.