New Books Network

What does it mean to consider trauma and media from the perspective of technology and not from that of the subject of trauma, the...

What does it mean to consider trauma and media from the perspective of technology and not from that of the subject of trauma, the clinician or the witness? In Transmitted Wounds: Media and the Mediation of Trauma (Oxford University Press, 2019), Amit Pinchevski carries out this thought experiment to great effect. By bringing media theory to bear on trauma theory, this book reveals the technical operations that inform the understanding of traumatic impact on bodies and minds. Under consideration is not the way trauma and traumatic memory figure in the media (film, television, photography and other popular culture portrayals of traumatic experience), but rather media as partaking in the very construction of the traumatic itself.

Pinchevski conducts an erudite and innovative exploration through a series of case studies: the radio broadcasts of the Eichmann trial; the videotaping of Holocaust testimonies; recent psychiatric debates about trauma through media following the 9/11 attacks; current controversy surrounding drone operators’ post-trauma; and digital platforms of algorithmic-holographic witnessing and virtual reality exposure therapy for PTSD. Each of these cases makes a compelling argument about how media technology and logic shape the social life of trauma both clinically and culturally. Transmitted Wounds takes us from mid-twentieth century to our current moment, moving us from an analogue world of trauma to the digital ecosystem that promises to transcend trauma all together. This temporal set-up demands ethical considerations of past and current systems of memory, witnessing and therapy, which Pinchevski does exceptionally well.

Transmitted Wounds offers fresh and thought-provoking contributions to the fields of trauma and memory, media theory, and the history of science and technology. It will also be of relevance to theoreticians and practitioners interested in digital culture and digital humanities.

Amit Pinchevski is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. He is the author of By Way of Interruption: Levinas and the Ethics of Communication (Duquesne University Press 2005) and coeditor of two books, Media Witnessing: Testimony in the Age of Mass Communication (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) and Ethics of Media (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). His research interests are in philosophy and theory of communication and media.


Tal Zalmanovich is a cultural historian of modern Britain. She’s a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Haifa. Prior to being an academic, Tal was a journalist. Podcasting is the fruitful convergence of the two. You can contact Tal at tal.zalmanovich@mail.huji.ac.il