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Posting images on the web: the creative viewer and non-violent resistance against terrorism

TitlePosting images on the web: the creative viewer and non-violent resistance against terrorism
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsMitchell, J
JournalMaterial Religion

In this article I investigate how the web was used for expressing non-violent resistance in the wake of the July 2005 bombings in London. I first describe how one website, entitled "We are not afraid," became a space for displaying and viewing responses to these attacks. My contention is that, to describe this phenomenon either as the creation of a fully fledged online community or simply as an electronic noticeboard is to oversimplify what is both a fluid and a social network. Indeed, the phenomenon is better described as a diverse collective representation in the face of shared trauma. In order to test this thesis out, I develop a taxonomy of postings showing the uses that these images are put to, including to console, to encourage, to explain and to exhort. Second, I look at the communicative ripples caused by this site, including the development of other sites that accepted the posting of satirical pictures and more explicit religious imagery. Third, I examine written responses to this web phenomenon, showing how these sites became catalysts for further interaction. On the basis of this analysis I make a number of observations, including that this represents a visually dominated, highly original and largely transitory network of resistance against terrorism.