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In this essay Solomon-Godeau argues that the carefully staged photographs of torture at Abu Ghraib function as spectacle. Despite this and their digital production, they still carry the weight of truth, of capturing something horrible. This essay explores the various ways race, class, gender, religion, and nationality all shaped the creation and circulation of these images. Solomon-Godeau, as others have done, recognizes the visual tropes of amateur pornography within which the participants function as both actors and directors. As a whole, this archive (still only partially revealed) points to a terrifying dark side to the role of representation in building community and collective identity. In this respect, the Abu Ghraib archive might be considered the infernal double of so-called worker photography of the 1920s and 1930s, producing not an emancipatory and collective self-representation but a lethal bond of murderous fraternity.

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