Despite general excitement about the prospect of new media for human rights advocacy, very little attention has been paid to the prospect of new media for storytelling, for generating the sorts of narratives that are crucial for social movements. In this reading group we will investigate whether familiar questions about storytelling in the documentary film context are useful for understanding and evaluating the use of new media to tell stories in the human rights context, especially as the definitions of “new media,” “documentary film,” “journalism,” “amateur,” and “professional” are blurred. Do the same questions about authenticity, objectivity, and purpose that arise in the documentary film context also arise in the new-media-for-social movements context? This inquiry is particularly relevant in the human rights context since many campaigns now make use of new media tools, and since the core of the human rights advocacy strategy includes “fact-finding” and “expose and shame” – strategies which naturally lend themselves to the sorts of verite storytelling so often found in documentary film.
The dates of the meetings are the first six Wednesdays - Jan 29 - March 5th.