<synthesis> New Book: The People Are Not an Image: Vernacular Video After the Arab Spring

peter snowdon peter at redrice.net
Tue Sep 22 15:23:39 CEST 2020

Dear all,

With the usual apologies for cross-posting, and for self-promotion, I'm happy to let you know that my book *The People Are Not an Image: Vernacular Video After the Arab Spring <https://www.versobooks.com/books/3680-the-people-are-not-an-image>* will be published by Verso on 29 September (and not some time in August as the publisher's website suggests). 

*_There are 8 days left to take advantage of the current 40% discount on pre-orders through Verso._* 

This book was intimately shaped by my participation in the Video Vortex network, and in particular by the meetings in Lüneburg and Istanbul which I was able to attend. Many thanks to all those on this list - and *primi inter pares*, Geert and Andreas - who have helped me over the last 9 years to hone my arguments, and to broaden both my thinking and my practice, including through our differences and disagreements. 

With good wishes to all in these ill-defined times,
Peter Snowdon


The People Are Not an Image
Vernacular Video After the Arab Spring
by Peter Snowdon <https://www.versobooks.com/authors/506-peter-snowdon>
A major intervention in media studies theorises the politics and aesthetics of internet video

The wave of uprisings and revolutions that swept the Middle East and North Africa between 2010 and 2012 were most vividly transmitted throughout the world not by television or even social media, but in short videos produced by the participants themselves and circulated anonymously on the internet.

In *The People Are Not an Image*, Snowdon explores this radical shift in revolutionary self-representation, showing that the political consequences of these videos cannot be located without reference to their aesthetic form. Looking at videos from Tunisia, Bahrain, Syria, Libya, and Egypt, Snowdon attends closely to the circumstances of both their production and circulation, drawing on a wide range of historical and theoretical material, to discover what they can tell us about the potential for revolution in our time and the possibilities of video as a genuinely decentralised and vernacular medium.


“Journalist, scholar, filmmaker, and maverick thinker, Peter Snowdon has written a fascinating and penetrating analysis of the Arab Spring’s 'vernacular videos' and their emancipatory function, offering illuminating insights that are likely to shake up cinema theory today much as these videos once cracked open the Arab world.”

– Deirdre Boyle, Associate Professor of Media Studies, The New School and author of Subject to Change: Guerrilla Television Revisited

“With The Uprising, a feature-length compilation of cell phone videos from the Arab revolutions, Peter Snowdon produced one of the great, if shamefully unknown, film works of the still young twenty-first Century. Revisiting his source material with admirable lucidity, the essays in The People Are Not an Image constitute a no less crucial and forward-looking work of cinematic exegesis. Together they represent a key development in the history of collective image-making.”

– J. Hoberman, author of Make My Day: Movie Culture in the Age of Reagan

“The anonymous videos of the 2010-2012 Arab uprisings, as reframed by this powerful and graceful book, are not documents of past events but performances that continue to live as they circulate online. Snowdon honors the videos as aesthetically complex works that, in the manner of a spiritual devotion, bring into being a collective body—one that just might burst the state’s cruel grip.”

– Laura U. Marks, author of Hanan al-Cinema: Affections for the Moving Image

“Peter Snowdon has mapped out the topography of a hidden treasure, drawing our attention to the videos of Arab revolutions as what he calls the ‘vernacular anarchive’ of a momentous historic event otherwise withering away in the speed of post-truth amnesia. This is a revelatory book, indispensable for our understanding of what happened in the course of the Arab Revolutions when we were not paying proper attention.”

– Hamid Dabashi author of The Arab Spring: The End of Postcolonialism

“Snowdon combines narratives of personal encounters, without which no tale of a revolution can be complete, with a sophisticated analysis of the ways of seeing a complex, fast moving reality, and contemporary critical analysis. Combining the experience of filmmaking and the everyday dialectics of rebellion during the Arab uprisings of 2011, this book should appeal to anyone interested in the relation between image and protest, street and screen, ordinary life and extraordinary mobilization, feeling of personhood and sense historical relevance, and subjectivity in times of revolution.”

– Mohammed Bamyeh, author of Social Sciences in the Arab World and Anarchy as Order


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