Rebecca Adelman

Visual culture expert Rebecca Adelman comments on newly declassified photos

This month the Department of Defense released nearly 200 previously classified photos of detainees at military sites across Iraq and Afghanistan. In a new article in The Conversation, visual culture expert Rebecca Adelman considers the questions they raise about transparency.

In her article, Adelman, an associate professor of media and communication studies, focuses on a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to release the images.

Adelman notes the that case highlights questions surrounding how the public typically understands and applies the idea of transparency to matters of detention and abuse.

“I argue that these photos will do little to foster public recognition of, or empathy for, the detainees. Moreover, their release raises fundamental questions about how we define and practice transparency,” Adelman writes.

The article also reflects on how scholars have started to grapple with transparency in theoretical and practical frameworks and how the Department of Defense has responded to requests for the release of photos in recent years.

Adelman studies visual culture, political theory, trauma studies, ethics, and cultural studies of war, terrorism, and militarization and is author of Beyond the Checkpoint: Visual Practices in America’s Global War on Terror (University of Massachusetts Press, 2014). Read “DoD detainee photos raise disturbing questions about transparency” on The Conversation website.

Image: Rebecca Adelman. Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.