By Gustavo Bontadini
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Edkins/Vaughan-Williams 2009; see also, Cox 1981). Critical approaches in IR are rooted in so-called postmodern or poststructuralist thinking, which entered the field in the 1980s with the works of Richard Ashley (1984), James Der Derian (1987), Michael Shapiro (1981; Der Derian/Shapiro 1989) and R. B. J. Walker (1987). Usually the terms ‘postmodernism’ and ‘poststructuralism’ are used interchangeably in IR, although, as Campbell (2007b: 211–12) stresses, there are some differences between them.
The selective character of what or who deserves representation also has a political dimension due to the photograph’s logic of inclusion and exclusion or, as Sontag (2003: 46) aptly noted, ‘to photograph is to frame, and to frame is to exclude’. A photographic picture determines both what kinds of objects and subjects can be seen and how they are made visible, since the viewer cannot look beyond what the photograph(er) allows him or her to see (Clarke 1997: 22). For example, with regard to photographic representations of AIDS in Africa, Bleiker and Kay (2007) have noted that some pictures of human suffering show exclusively decontextualized miseries, in which the depicted subjects are abstracted from their original (local) context.
In common parlance, it is almost de rigueur to say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Visual culture theorist W. J. T. Mitchell (1994: Chapter 5) claims that images are superior to words in their explanatory capacity. Referring to the question of how to give a verbal description of a visual representation he notes that, No amount of description [. ] adds up to a depiction. A verbal representation cannot represent – that is, make present – its object in the same way a visual representation can.
Appunti di filosofia by Gustavo Bontadini