The “visual” or “aesthetic” turn in global politics refers to an international and interdisciplinary enterprise motivated by the acknowledgment of the centrality of visuals in our contemporary political and social realities. It concerns both the use of visuals in the narration of politics beyond words (e.g., through photography, documentary cinema) and the study of visual phenomena as part of political facts, events and representations. Since its gradual development in the late 1990s and its expansion in the following decade, scholarly research dedicated to visual politics includes various disciplinary and analytical approaches – such as security studies; international relations; political sociology; or comparative politics. It also includes a large yet specialized spectrum of fields and research topics – including but not limited to new technologies; discourses, representations and forms of warfare; peace and conflict; foreign policy; refugee crises; health issues; international organizations; diplomacy; affects and emotions; identity politics; nationalisms. More than considering visuality as a key-resource to understand the world and its organizing dynamics, the originality of visual politics also relies on the methods used and developed by its scholars (e.g., fieldwork photography, image analysis, documentary cinema or autoethnography). This session aims to introduce the newly founded IPSA Research Committee (RC04 Visual Politics), validated in 2020.
Dr. Sruthi Muraleedharan