Isaac Blacksin

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, Santa Cruz, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9324

Approve Date

October 5, 2016

Project Title

Blacksin, Isaac Samuel, U. of California, Santa Cruz, CA - To aid research on 'Writing Violence: The Discourse and Culture of Journalism in the Middle East,' supervised by Dr. Robert Meister

Preliminary abstract: Journalists exercise a powerful influence by representing war and violence, and thus a critical study of the cultural practices and discursive dynamics of war reportage is crucial for assessing how violence is understood today. My research examines the social exchanges, institutional structures, and professional ideals of foreign correspondent journalism in Beirut, Lebanon and Baghdad, Iraq, and attempts to map the significance of journalistic practice and language for how violence is experienced and articulated. By engaging with correspondents as fieldworkers and storytellers, I can observe the processes through which violence is transformed into a journalistic object, and the frictions of this interpretive task. How do journalists textually construct the realities of war, generating particular conventions for how violence, suffering, and victimhood are understood? How do journalism’s research and reporting practices impact local social relations, identities, and infrastructures? Are journalistic explanations of violence commensurate with the experiences of correspondents and their interlocutors? In addressing such questions, my work evaluates the public role of the journalist as authority and witness; the relationships between violence, knowledge, and text; and the identities and meanings guaranteed or excluded by news about war. I thereby attend not only to what the foreign correspondent genre is, but to how journalists use the resources of the genre as they intervene in the cultural and social space of violence and its meaning. Unraveling the practical and theoretical entanglements violence creates for the fieldwork encounter, the written account, and the troubled relationships between the two, my research reveals the narrative complexities and social intimacies of war reporting.