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Ceding the Activist Digital Documentary

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New Documentary Ecologies

Abstract

I have been making and writing about activist documentary since my graduate work in the 1980s as scholar and maker1 of AIDS activist video (Juhasz 1995).1 My work moved to the Internet when it became readily available and makes the most of this technology (Juhasz 2009, 2011, 2012). Digital technologies allow me and the communities with which I work, levels of access unprecedented but often imagined, to large-scale production and dissemination of our messages. Yossarian, an Indymedia activist describes his activities on Facebook: ‘It’s like holding all of your political meetings at McDonalds and ensuring that the police come and film while you do so’ (in Askanius 2012, p. 116). So here, I will look back — and forward — by considering today’s readily available, transparent forms and forums, such as Facebook as seen through my earlier and on-going encounters with traditional, activist linear documentaries. As corporations have granted us inexpensive access to media expression our demands adapt. In the epoch of Facebook, the art of the activist documentary becomes less a matter of speaking and being heard through technologies of representation and more of an artful practice of speaking-and-seceding, voicing-and-silencing, thereby better managing how to get on-and-off of media by knowing when to both seed and cede the digital.

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© 2014 Alexandra Juhasz

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Juhasz, A. (2014). Ceding the Activist Digital Documentary. In: Nash, K., Hight, C., Summerhayes, C. (eds) New Documentary Ecologies. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137310491_3

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