Akda: The Asian Journal of Literature, Culture, Performance


drug war, regime-made disaster, violent othering, civil contract of photography, fellow-feeling, political community, Philippines


This paper proposes a framework for a politics and ethics of viewing photographs of atrocities and suffering through an analysis of photographs of Rodrigo Duterte’s “drug war” in the Philippines and responses to these images. It situates these politics and ethics of viewing in a context of violent othering and Ariella Azoulay’s conceptualization of “regime-made disaster.” This framework is grounded on fellow-feeling and imagined identification as well as on the relationality, powers of mourning, and ethical responsibility that Judith Butler asserts and is operationalized through the “civil contract of photography” called forth by Azoulay. Following Azoulay and Butler, this paper directs these politics and ethics of viewing photographs towards reimagining citizenship and reconceptualizing the political community.

Video Abstract