The evidentiary presence of photography plays a key role in documenting key events of human rights abuse. It is also a witness to events that have formed existing state systems. The way in which the historical context in the photographs of the past has further triggered events of today has led to asking, “How did the circulated letters and iconic photos alert humanitarian organisations such as Amnesty International to human rights abuse in South Africa and Nigeria during the 1960s? And “How is the agency of victimhood used when Amnesty campaigns for individuals at risk?”
My study seeks to answer these questions by studying the framing of cases, media rhetorics, and iconic photographs of prisoners of conscience in Amnesty’s archive and other pre-existing archives that has formulated the cultural resonance of a central narrative of Africa as war-stricken in the ’60s. The close examination of campaign materials such as photographs, letters, posters, and text will enable us to unpack the agency of victimhood representation in affective communication.