Capturing Gaddafi: Narrative as System Currency

Presentation: 'Capturing Gaddafi: Narrative as System Currency'
Conference: Fak'ugesi Conference
Host: University of Witwatersrand
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Date: December 2014

Abstract: This paper explores the construction of narrative through multiple vehicles and its function as currency in systems of representation and communication. Within the networked model of communication, as characterized by Gustavo Cardoso, the channeling of information through multiple forms of communication devices produces alternate interpretations of information. This results in narrative as currency in the systems and streams of information, which expand, contract, dissipate, start, stop, are cut off, and begin again within generative and iterative constructs. This paper examines the capture and murder of former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi as a demonstrative event of narrative as system currency. The Libyan revolution began in February 2011 and by September 2011 the U.N. had recognized the National Transitional Council, led by rebel forces, as the legal representative body of Libya. On the 20th of October 2011, outside the Libyan town of Sirte, Muammar Gaddafi was captured and murdered by rebel soldiers. The event was captured on cell phones and distributed through Western and Middle Eastern broadcast news media as well as various social media outlets. The narrative construct of this event, reliant on the networked model of communication, intersects and integrates cultural, social and political systems of representation and communication.

This paper explores narrative as system currency in the causal relationship between the multiplicity of constructed narratives within the complex political arena of Western and Middle Eastern relations. In doing so, this paper addresses a range of questions including; the intertwined relationship between the multiplicity of information generated from a single event or set of relational events through disparate sources of production; narrative, as a construct, guiding the malleable positions of author, subject and spectator within cognitive parameters and constraints in the processing of information; and evolving dynamics between political agendas as the conduit, and capital, within vehicles of production and dissemination.