Video Activists from Aleppo and Raqqa as ‘Modern-Day Kinoks’?

An Audiovisual Narrative of the Syrian Revolution

In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication

The popular uprising that began in Syria in 2011 generated an unprecedented number of YouTube videos recording events in Syria; this emphasized how the social media platform had become an important alternative space for news and information, a space beyond the control of the government. In this article, I address the role of Syrian video activism in the Syrian revolution, and pay particular attention to why young Syrian anti-regime protesters started recording and uploading their videos on YouTube. As such, I do not focus on technology or the medium per se, but on the peoples’ motivations—what led them to upload digital video content as testimonies of revolutionary events and violence. Based on observation of verified YouTube clips, field visits to Turkey and Syria and semi-structured interviews with Syrian video activists between the years 2014 and 2016, I suggest that Syrian video activists can be seen as revolutionary filmmakers similar to the twentieth-century ‘Kinoks’, or kino-ki, that formed part of Dziga Vertov’s Soviet filmmakers collective whose radical experiment aimed to bridge social revolution and realist cinematic practice (Tomas 1992) and document reality ‘As It Is’.

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    Interview A.H. 25 August 2014, Gaziantep.

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    Interview G.M., 28 August 2014, Aleppo.

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    Interview G.M., 28 August 2014, Aleppo.

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    Interview Z.F. 6 September 2014, Gaziantep.

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    Interview Z.F., 3 September 2014, Gaziantep.

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