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Method 1: Visuality

Images and symbols are inextricable from security studies. The way we perceive threat determines where and how societies and soldiers apply force, and reciprocally, it is usually through images and symbols that the application of force is contextualized, justified and rationalized. The purpose of this methodological cluster is to analyze the security implications of the perceptual process as a whole, that is, how individuals physically perceive, how what they perceive is generated and propagated, and in what way meaning is attributed to that which is perceived. More

Nöth (1990) Handbook of Semiotics

Nöth, Winfried (1990): The Handbook of Semiotics. Indiana University Press.

The Handbook of Semiotics is widely accepted as THE handbook of semiotics. Nöth's handbook maps the many facets of the field of semiotics up to 1990.

Rancière (2011) The Emancipated Spectator

Rancière, Jacques (2011): The Emancipated Spectator. London: Verso.

The emancipated spectator is a sequel to Rancière's The Future of the Image and presents a critique of leftist melancoly in regard to the spectacle and the spectator. Rancière criticises the tendency of theorists of both art and film to portray audiences passive. Moves against this can be seen in forms of art, like new theatre and performance art. Yet, the spectator has not been passive to begin with: like a reader, the spectator makes unique connections, selects, and frames the performance.

Barthes (1977) Image, Music, Exit

This book contains both the 'rhetoric of the image' and 'the photographic message' through which you can understand the main points of  Barthesian semiotics and thereby also the visuality paper.

Grimshaw and Ravetz (2005) Visualizing anthropology

 Grimshaw, Anna and Ravetz, Amanda eds. (2005), Visualizing Anthropology (Bristol: Intellect Books). 

Questions of vision and knowledge are central to debates about the world in which we live. Developing new analytical approaches toward ways of seeing is a key challenge facing those working across a wide range of disciplines. How can visuality be understood on its own terms rather than by means of established textual frameworks? Visualizing Anthropology takes up this challenge. Bringing together a range of perspectives anchored in practice, the book maps experiments in the forms and techniques of visual enquiry.

Chouliaraki (2008) The symbolic power of transnational media : Managing the visibility of suffering

Explicitly theorizes the link between circulation and image content, providing a somewhat critical perspective on the media on which visual artefacts depend.

This article explores systematic patterns in the visibility of suffering in satellite
news, from the footage of 11 September 2001 to citizen-generated content from
the 2007 anti-government demonstrations in Myanmar (Burma), so as to illustrate
the role of transnational media as agents of symbolic power. It argues that
the symbolic power of transnational broadcasting consists primarily in its capacity
to manage the visibility of suffering so as to reproduce the moral deficiencies of

Campbell (2003) Cultural governance and pictoral resistance

Discusses the critical spaces presented in images, and argues for the need of such critical visuality to not make itself an elite project, remaining up to speed with visuality deployed in the interest of popular governance and conduct of war.

Visuality as a method of studying visual security

When studying different aspects of the visuality of security I have lonk been frustrated by the need to translate anything visual into verbal forms and subjugate it to the verbal mode of thinking and reasoning.

International Visual Research Methods Conference

The Second International Visual Research Methods Conference will be held at The Open University, UK, 13-15 September 2011. The Programme Committee invites proposals for papers, themed sessions, film/video screenings and exhibitions in the broad field of visual research methods. Please summarise your proposal in 200 words and send it by 20 February 2011 to We will let you know if your proposal has been accepted by 1 May 2011.

Visible Evidence 18: Call for Proposals

11-14 August 2011 — New York City

Visuality and IR [coming back from the SGIR conference in Stockholm]

The 7th conference of the Standing Group in International Relations was held in Stockholm, Sweden. Entitled with “Politics in Hard Time: International Relations Responses to the Financial Crisis” it consisted of a variety of sections addressing not only economic and political issues, but also questions of popular culture and visuality.