Images of Power and the Power of Images

Images of Power and the Power of Images: Control, Ownership, and Public Space

Edited by Judith Kapferer
Series: Space and Place
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 164
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  • Book Info
    Images of Power and the Power of Images
    Book Description:

    Real places and events are constructed and used to symbolize abstract formulations of power and authority in politics, corporate practice, the arts, religion, and community. By analyzing the aesthetics of public space in contexts both mundane and remarkable, the contributors examine the social relationship between public and private activities that impart meaning to groups of people beyond their individual or local circumstances. From a range of perspectives-anthropological, sociological, and socio-cultural-the contributors discuss road-making in Peru, mass housing in Britain, an unsettling traveling exhibition, and an art fair in London; we explore the meaning of walls in Jerusalem, a Zen garden in Japan, and religious themes in Europe and India. Literally and figuratively, these situations influence the ways in which ordinary people interpret their everyday worlds. By deconstructing the taken for- granted definitions of social value (democracy, equality, individualism, fortune), the authors reveal the ideological role of imagery and imagination in a globalized political context.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-515-4
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction: Images of Power and the Power of Images
    (pp. 1-8)

    Symbols of power in diverse areas of public life surround us, from insignificant street signs and little-known corners to grand monuments and great buildings. Concrete expressions of abstract conceptions—churches (religion), seats of government (Parliament), railway stations (transport policy), shopping malls (commerce), and newsvendors (mass media), for instance—are regularly translated from these solidities into ideas, for the most part unthinkingly. Images of the control and ownership of public space in everyday matters have great significance in the conduct of human affairs—social, political, and cultural—and they dominate our generally accepted beliefs in the order of things. As we...

  5. Chapter 1 Twilight of the Enlightenment: The Art Fair, the Culture Industry, and the ‘Creative Class’
    (pp. 9-27)

    In Western Europe and North America today, the reconfiguring of the ideologies and institutions of state apparatuses has significant consequences for the arts of postmodern society in the dispensing of social, political, and cultural power and influence. Taking the social situation of the art market at the Frieze Art Fair in London from 2006–2009 as the grounds of my analysis, I propose to investigate here some of the ways by which late modernity has reworked the values of national and post-national thinking in the direction of taken-for-granted meanings of class and status. Class, in the traditional sense of relation...

  6. Chapter 2 Cementing Relations: The Materiality of Roads and Public Spaces in Provincial Peru
    (pp. 28-46)

    When I began to consider the aesthetics of state power, it was the pervasive presence of concrete that caught my attention. Concrete is one of the key materials used for the demarcation and ordering of public space in contemporary Peru. It is, after all, a material that binds together elements that otherwise refuse or fail to cohere. Over the past 25 years, I have watched the use of this material spread from more established urban centers to transform rural towns into peri-urban spaces. Where adobe structures and compacted mud roadways prevailed in the mid-1980s, you now find concrete public buildings,...

  7. Chapter 3 Multifaceted Monolith: The Hidden Diversity of Mass Housing
    (pp. 47-59)

    Many of the chapters in this book are concerned with the most recent phase of state power and its visual expression, namely, the revival of international capitalism that has seen governments and states around the world increasingly being reduced to the status of assistants and facilitators for forces that, fundamentally, hold them in little regard. In the post-war years covered by this chapter, the role of the state could not have been more different: dominant and proud rather than weak and apologetic, pushing forward rather than drawing back.¹ This contrast has had a corresponding effect on today’s perspective of those...

  8. Chapter 4 Folding and Enfolding Walls: Statist Imperatives and Bureaucratic Aesthetics in Divided Jerusalem
    (pp. 60-79)

    After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the armistice line ran through Jerusalem on a roughly north-south axis. That line developed into a dilapidated no man’s land, with ongoing back-and-forth sniper fire. The ancient Old City remained in Jordan, its western Ottoman walls lying alongside the armistice line. After the 1967 June War, the Israeli government annexed an area that included Jordanian Jerusalem, together with a large area of the adjacent West Bank, all of which was made part of a single municipal territory. The Israeli state declared this new entity to be “United Jerusalem, the Eternal Capital of Israel” (Klein 2005:55)....

  9. Chapter 5 Body Shock: The Political Aesthetics of Death
    (pp. 80-98)

    Graphic images of death can be profoundly disturbing. The sight of human corpses captures attention, unsettles feelings, and fractures meanings. In a global media market, visual representations of dead bodies are trafficked with intent: political and commercial image makers rely on the shock-and-awe effect of death to propagate truth claims about war, nation, and security. Some images of death, however, may not be shown. In the United States and Europe, photographs of dead citizen soldiers are typically censured. Government intervention begins with the camera work at military sites. Visual access to dead bodies in war zones is restricted and tightly...

  10. Chapter 6 The Symbolic Body and the Rhetoric of Power
    (pp. 99-115)

    It is becoming increasingly difficult to relate our forms of shared knowledge (social representations) to wide-ranging, if not long-lasting, symbolic and cultural universes. In many cases, the current crisis of the political model of democracy makes it very arduous, perhaps even impossible, to understand the extent to which these representations are the effect of an omnipervasive logic of spectacularization or, rather, new mythologies and passions elaborated according to a bottom-up rather than top-down logic, as most past history reminds us. The democratic model—never wholly implemented as the direct government of the people, but instead historically achieved through a representative...

  11. Chapter 7 The Limits of Metaphor: Ideology and Representation in the Zen Garden
    (pp. 116-129)

    The Teramachi shopping mall in Kyoto is the epitome of a certain contemporary vision of Japan: a supercharged, unbridled consumerism couched in an empire of signs. With the exception of its Shinto shrine, the two intersecting streets that constitute this mall consist of storefronts with few decorative touches, other than the mostly inexpensive merchandise on display. However, in this aesthetically bleak environment, one shopkeeper could not resist the centuries-old impulse, typical of Kyoto, to have a small garden at the front of the shop. Suchtsuboniwa, inspired by the Zen tradition, are small gardens enclosed within an architectural structure (see...

  12. Chapter 8 Images of Transgression: Teyyam in Malabar
    (pp. 130-150)

    In the context of religious and communal practice in the Indian state of Kerala,teyyamrituals are manifested by and identified with particular deities. One such, in the ritual complex of North Malabar, is theteyyamor deity of Muttappan. In contrast to the Brahmanic and hegemonic discourse of state ideology, Muttappan highlights the importance ofteyyamas both deity and ritual in symbolic representations of community. Muttappan is in itself an image of power that unsettles all other images of state power and caste hierarchy.

    My purpose here is to analyze the deity Muttappan in relation to the changing...

  13. INDEX
    (pp. 151-156)