Seeing Human Rights -- the role of visual communication

24 June 2024

Centre Director, Affiliates, and HDR Candidates were amongst the audience for Sandra Ristovska's lecture "Seeing Human Rights" on Monday 17 June 2024.  Dr Ristovska is Assistant Professor of Media Studies and Law at the University of Colorado Boulder. Held at UQ's St Lucia Campus, a number of contemporary issues and challenges were addressed. 

Centre Affiliate and SCA academic Dr Renée Mickelburgh (Associate Lecturer - Strategic Communication) attended the lecture. With a background in researching human rights and writing on contemporary rights based issues and activism, Dr Mickelburgh highlighted the importance of the role of visual communication: "Visual communication is integral for telling the story of human rights, and human rights abuses. Dr Ristovska's work makes us question the kinds of stories being told, how they are being told and how we might move the narrative towards one that emphasises peace over conflict."


Along with Dr Mickelburgh, Centre Director Associate Professor Elske van de Fliert, Affiliates Associate Professor Pradip Thomas, Dr Skye Doherty, Dr Anne Kruger, Dr Kylie Navuku, and HDR Candidate Jodie Martire were in attendance.  

About 'Seeing Human Rights' - the lecture event

Presententation overview: "Visual technologies have long constituted a crucial element of struggles for human rights and social change. This lecture provides an overview of how human rights organizations are borrowing from this long-standing and wide-ranging tradition as they seek to professionalize video activism through video production, verification standards, visual investigative techniques, and training. In doing so, human rights organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, WITNESS, and others move video activism away from its long-held status as an occupational craft into a proxy profession which puts human rights videos into institutional and legal service. The lecture argues that the proxy profession retains some of the flexibility of video activism as a critical voice against injustice while giving up on its imaginative scope as a cultural practice that sustains important human rights dialogue even in the face of institutional and legal stalemate."

About the speaker: Sandra Ristovska is Assistant Professor of Media Studies and Law at the University of Colorado Boulder. Informed by her experiences as a documentary filmmaker, her research examines how images shape the pursuit of justice and human rights across institutional and legal contexts in the U.S. and around the world. Her publications include the award-winning book, Seeing Human Rights: Video Activism as a Proxy Profession (MIT Press, 2021), and the co-edited volume, Visual Imagery and Human Rights Practice (Palgrave, 2018). She is the founding chair of the IAMCR’s Multimodal Communication Research Working Group.