Syncretic Narrative: Method for Navigation of Power and Resistance in War and Conflict
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This research is developed out of an observed phenomenon of narrative formation in the Arab Spring. Narrative, informed by and reliant upon communication models and technologies, enables us to navigate, negotiate, and elicit meaning both from and within complexity of information. As a primary model of communication during the Arab Spring, the networked model of communication facilitated a dynamic interface between the citizen witness and institutional journalism within the networked bounds of space and time.
This research investigates the operation of the citizen witness in the networked bounds of space and time, grounded in a syncretically generated geopolitical place of the Middle East, interfacing with institutional global journalism. Practice-based research was conducted in order to further investigate the identified theoretical underpinnings in the production, dissemination, and reception of narrative and to examine the role of the spectator in the shifting landscape of the author and the subject. As instruments of investigation the practice-based research incorporates interaction, generated by the spectator, as a primary mode of activation. To address the production of narrative co-created by the citizen witness and institutional journalism, within the networked bounds of space and time, the spectator’s indeterminate generation of narrative is leveraged. In order to assess the citizen witness’ position in simultaneously operating as the author and the subject, the spectator’s physical presence, determined by proximity and duration, was used to consider the exclusion of the citizen witness from the veracity gap.
This research identifies syncretic narrative as a methodological tool in unpacking narrative formation generated within the networked model of communication in instances of war and conflict. In doing so, it proposes a shift in narrative formation relative to a collapse of distance between the author and the subject due to an increase in the logic of speed.
As such, the methodology of this research is developed through the lens of syncretism and derived from the Event Indexing Situation Model (EISM). To investigate the observed phenomenon this research presents a procedural-driven approach undertaken to identify and analyze the indexes of the protagonist, space and time, causation, and intention. In demonstrating a shift in narrative formation relative to a collapse of distance between the author and the subject due to an increase in the logic of speed consideration is given of George Antonius as an original citizen witness in the syncretically generated geopolitical space and place of the Middle East. Accordingly, it addresses a weaponization of the citizen witness within narrative formation in the networked model of communication.
As an interdisciplinary course of study this research intersects practice and theory within the domains of media art practice, narratology, media studies, journalism, and Middle Eastern politics.
This dissertation is structured as a meta-methodology of the research. The intention of which is to demonstrate the proposed methodology through its own process of analysis in the investigation and exploration of narrative formation.