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This introduction explores some of the broader themes in this special section on the technologies of witnessing. In today's globally mediated world, visual images play a central role in determining which violences are redeemed and which get recognized. Northern human rights activists understand this fact and in recent years have built a transnational communications infrastructure through which "local" actors' claims are formatted into human rights "issues." I discuss the axiom that underpins this infrastructure, the notion that "seeing is believing," and then go on to briefly analyze some of the models (mobilization of shame) and forms (testimony) through which activists mediate their claims.
American Anthropologist © 2006 American Anthropological Association