Sandra Ristovska on Video Activism

September 13, 2021

As video becomes an important tool to expose injustice, CMDS Fellow Sandra Ristovska in her new book examines how human rights organizations are seeking to professionalize video activism through video production, verification standards, and training.

In Seeing Human Rights, published by the MIT Press, Ristovska argues that video activism utilised by human rights groups is becoming a proxy profession that uses human rights videos to tap into journalism, the law, and political advocacy. Ristovska explains that this proxy profession retains some tactical flexibility in its use of video while giving up on the more radical potential and imaginative scope of video activism as a cultural practice.

Ristovska considers the unique affordances of video and examines the unfolding relationships among journalists, human rights organizations, activists, and citizens in global crisis reporting. She offers a case study of the visual turn in the law; describes advocacy and marketing strategies; and argues that the transformation of video activism into a proxy profession privileges institutional and legal spaces over broader constituencies for public good.

The book is now available as open access.