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Dr Leshu Torchin

Senior Lecturer in Film Studies

I specialise in the subject of film and its role in bearing witness to genocide and human rights abuses, distant and near, past and present, with particular attention to the uses of film and other screen media in activist campaigns. I am especially interested in how film and entertainment culture are brought to bear on advocacy.

My monograph, Creating the Witness: Documenting Genocide on Film, Video, and the Internet (University of Minnesota Press, Visible Evidence Series) conducts a transhistorical study of media witnessing across several key sites of genocide, from an examination of film-based campaign by Near East Relief in response to the Armenian Genocide to the consideration of YouTube as a site of activism in response to the crisis in Darfur.

Other works on the subject of genocide and representation are “Mediation And Remediation: La Parole Filmée In Rithy Panh’s The Missing Picture (L’image Manquante),” Film Quarterly Vol. 68, No. 1 (Fall 2014), and “Anne Frank’s Moving Images,” in Jeffrey Shandler and Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (eds), Anne Frank Unbound: Media, Imagination, Memory (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2012).

More recently, I’ve been working on the monograph, Too Big to See, which examines the role of film in the promotion of economic justice and a popular understanding of economic rights.

This work builds on my research in documentary, Holocaust and genocide studies, media and activism (such as economic and social justice, human rights, feminism), film festivals, and politics on film; I would be interested in directing theses related to these topics. Other interests include media and migration (both travelling cultures and the expanded realms of film), and tourism.

Beyond academic research, I write for Souciant, an online magazine of culture and politics. I contribute film reviews as well as ruminations and rants on subjects ranging from spoilers to Justin Bieber’s visit to the Anne Frank House. My contributions can be found here.



Creating the Witness: Documenting Genocide on Film, Video, and the Internet (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2012). For a discussion of its contents and a sneak peek at the Introduction, visit the Re.Framing Activism Blog.

Edited with Dina Iordanova, Film Festival Yearbook 4: Film Festivals and Activism (St Andrews Film Studies, 2012)

With William Brown and Dina Iordanova, Moving People, Moving Images: Cinema and Trafficking in the New Europe (St Andrews Film Studies, 2010).


"Kony 2012: Anatomy of a Campaign Video and a Video Campaign," in Yannis Tzioumakis and Claire Molloy (eds) The Routledge Companion to Cinema and Politics (Routledge, 2016), pp. 123-134.

‘Chronicle of a Quest: Silence after Killing’. Film Quarterly, 69, 2 (Winter 2015), 25-35. DOI: 10.1525/fq.2015.69.2.25

"Rates of Exchange: Human Trafficking and the Global Marketplace," in Alexandra Juhasz and Alisa Lebow (eds) A Companion to Contemporary Documentary Film (Wiley Blackwell, 2015), pp. 108-123.

"Conditions of Activism: Feminist Film Activism and the Legacy of the Second Wave," in Laura Mulvey and Anna Backman Rogers (eds) Feminisms (Amsterdam University Press, 2015), pp. 141-148.

"White Band's Burden: Live 8 and Humanitarian Synergy," in Meg McLagan and Yates McGee (eds), Sensible Politics: Visual Cultures of Non- Governmental Activism, (Zone Publishing/MIT Press, 2012)

"Anne Frank's Moving Images," in Jeffrey Shandler and Barabra Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (eds), Anne Frank Unbound: Media, Imagination, Memory (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2012).

"Cultural Learnings of Borat For Make Benefit Glorious Study of Documentary," Film & History, Vol. 38.1 (Spring 2008), pp. 53-63.

"Influencing Representation: Equal Access and Roma Social Inclusion," Third Text, 22.3 (March 2008), pp. 387-396.

"Since We Forgot: Remembrance and Recognition of the Armenian Genocide in Virtual Archives," in Roger Hallas and Frances Guerin (eds), The Image and the Witness: Trauma, Memory and Visual Culture (Wallflower Press, 2007), pp. 82-97.

"Ravished Armenia: Visual Media, Humanitarian Advocacy, and the Formation of Witnessing Publics," American Anthropologist; 108 March 2006: 214-220.

"Location, Location, Location: The Destination of the Manhattan TV Tour," Tourist Studies, 2.3 (December 2002), pp. 247-266.



"First They Killed My Father: Pushing at the Borders of the Genocide Biopic," The Conversation 15 September 2017.

"In an era of fake news, documentary makers have never mattered more," The Conversation, 10 July 2017.

"What can the mass 'check-in' at Standing Rock tell us about online advocacy?" The Conversation, 4 November 2016.

Carol and The Dressmaker’, Souciant 9 December 2015.

Disruption as Symptom’ [On Mr Robot (TV-USA)] Souciant 4 November 2015.

Consuming Amy Winehouse’ [On Asif Kapadia’s Amy] Souciant 20 July 2015.

You’re Welcome’ [On Magic Mike XXL] Souciant 12 July 2015.

"The Schlub Problem" [on the Isla Vista shooting] Souciant Magazine, 29 May 2014.

"How Not to Defend Spoilers" Souciant Magazine, 16 April 2014.

"The Academy Awards" Souciant Magazine, 7 March 2014.

"Remembering Genocide" [On Rithy Panh's L'Image Manquante/The Missing Picture] Souciant Magazine, 8 January 2014.

"The Year in Film" [2013 overview in a different sort of list] Souciant Magazine, 26 December 2013.

"Slap Hillary" [On The Hillary Project and video games for advocacy] Souciant Magazine, 13 August 2013.

"Cross-Dress for Success" [On Dustin Hoffman] Souciant Magazine, 11 July 2013.

"Dystopian Personalisation Scheme" [on Facebook Home] Souciant Magazine, 8 May 2013.

"True Beliebers" [On Justin Bieber's trip to the Anne Frank House] Souciant Magazine, 18 April 2013.

Review of Occupy the Film Festival in two parts, Souciant Magazine, 19-20 September 2012.

Part One "All Protest, No Porn"

Part Two "Occupy the Film Festival, Part II"

"Marketing Joseph Kony," Souciant Magazine, 12 March 2012.

"Memorializing Steve Jobs," Souciant Magazine, 11 October 2011.

"Documenting Iranian Democracy: The Green Wave," Souciant Magazine 19 July 2011.

"Trafficking and Video," In Media Res "Human Rights", November 9-November 12.

Current research


2013. Creating the Witness: Film and Human Rights Advocacy. School of Social and Political Sciences Seminar Series, York University. 24 October.

2013. Keynote Session. Visible Evidence XX. Stockholm. 15-18 August.

2013. Creating the Witness: Mobilising Images and Activism. Speaker Series: The Faces and Traces of Violence. Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales, Consejo Superior de InvestigacionesCientificas. Madrid. 18 April.

2013. Too Big to See: The Visual Culture of Economic Rights. Speaker Series: The Center for Arts in Society and The Humanities Center, Carnegie Mellon University. Pittsburgh, PA. 7 February.

2012. Documentary and Activism: An Overview. Revisiting New Latin American Cinema from its Periphery: a Dialogue between Academics and Mario Handler, The Department of Spanish and the Centre for Film Studies, University of St Andrews. 7 June.

2012. Kony 2012: Anatomy of a Campaign Video and a Video Campaign. Speaker Series: Culture, Film, and Media, University of Nottingham. 2 May.

2010. Discussant for the film Daring to Resist: Three Women Face the Holocaust. Holocaust Memorial Day Commemorations, University of Sussex. 27 January.

2009. Envisioning Economic Human Rights: The Human Cost of the Free Market. Speaker Series: The Centre for Screen Studies, University of Glasgow. 21 October.

2009. Roundtable. Terrorism from a Multidisciplinary Perspective, The Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, University of St Andrews. 30 September.


2014. Recovering the Witness: L'Image Manquantes/The Missing Piece. Cinematic Traces of Things to Come: The Tenth Tel Aviv International Colloquium on Cinema and Television Studies. Tel Aviv, Israel. 8-10 June.

2014. Respondent. Visualising Trauma. Cinematic Traces of Things to Come: The Tenth Tel Aviv International Colloquium on Cinema and Television Studies. Tel Aviv, Israel. 8-10 June.

2014. Respondent. Documentary in an Expanding Field: Technology and the Mass Subject as Witness. Society for Cinema and Media Studies. Seattle, Washington. 19-23 March.

2013. Geopolitics and Genre in John & Jane Toll Free. Screen Studies Conference. Glasgow, 28-30 June.

2013. Advance Engagement: Crowd Funding and Publics Production for The Yes Men Are Revolting. NECS Conference. Prague, 20-22 June.

2010. The Vlog of Anne Frank. Visible Evidence XVII. Istanbul, 9-12 August.

2009. New Perspectives: Envisioning Economic Human Rights. Media Communications and Cultural Studies Association. Bradford UK. 14-16 January.

2008. Citizen Tube and Youtube's Focus on Darfur. Society for Cinema and Media Studies. Philadelphia, PA. 5-9 March.

2007. Citizen Tube: Focus on Darfur. Future Histories of the Moving Image. University of Sunderland,Sunderland UK, 16-18 November.

Research supervision

I am interested in advising students working in the area of film and social justice, representations of genocide and the Holocaust, trauma, collective memory, documentary, visual anthropology, media anthropology, and film industries (including tourism).

I am currently supervising: