Screen Shots: State Violence on Camera in Israel and Palestine
In the last two decades, amid the global spread of smartphones, state killings of civilians have increasingly been captured on the cameras of both bystanders and police. Screen Shots studies this phenomenon from the vantage point of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. Here, cameras have proliferated as political tools in the hands of a broad range of actors and institutions, including Palestinian activists, Israeli soldiers, Jewish settlers, and human rights workers. All trained their lens on Israeli state violence, propelled by a shared dream: that advances in digital photography—closer, sharper, faster—would advance their respective political agendas. Most would be let down.
Drawing on ethnographic work, Rebecca L. Stein chronicles Palestinian video-activists seeking justice, Israeli soldiers laboring to perfect the military’s image, and Zionist conspiracy theorists accusing Palestinians of “playing dead.” Writing against techno-optimism, Stein investigates what camera dreams and disillusionment across these political divides reveal about the Israeli and Palestinian colonial present, and the shifting terms of power and struggle in the smartphone age.
Rebecca L. Stein is a professor of cultural anthropology at Duke University and the author and/or editor of five books in the field of anti-colonial Israel/Palestine studies. Her latest book, Screen Shots: State Violence on Camera in Israel and Palestine (Stanford University Press, 2021) is the culmination of a multi-book project about the ways that new media technologies are recalibrating the Israeli relationship to its military occupation. She is also the author of Digital Militarism: Israel’s Occupation in the Social Media Age (with Adi Kuntsman, 2015); Itineraries in Conflict: Israelis, Palestinians, and the Political Lives of Tourism (Duke University Press, 2008); the coeditor of Palestine, Israel and the Politics of Popular Culture (Duke University Press, 2005) with Ted Swedenburg; and the co-editor of The Struggle for Sovereignty: Palestine and Israel, 1993-2005 with Joel Beinin (Stanford University Press, 2006).