The Making of Them and Us (MaTUS)

Project Details

Layman's description

The project studies the encounter between different cultures, as conveyed also in pictures. It is based on Lund school cultural semiotics, and it applies narratology to pictorial structures. A number of case studies are concentrated, on one hand, on the discovery of the new continent named America, and on the other hand, on the contemporary period of great displacements of populations

Human encounters are a central issue of the human science. Our knowledge of other cultures expanded considerably in the 16th century, being as much conveyed by pictorial narratives as by verbal ones. This is still true today when the meeting of cultures has become an affair of each and every moment. Yet there has been very little systematic research so far into such pictorially transmitted cultural encounters.

In this project such perspectives will be problematized in terms of cultural semiotics, which means that the notion of “other” or “foreign” in cultural encounters will be studied with regard to an “Ego-culture” that often itself starts out making a distinction within the field of foreign elements between an “Alter-culture” of high value and/or good communicational standing, and an “Alius culture” with less (or no) value and/or outside the range of what can be mutually communicated.

At the beginning of our story, we will put the emphasis on the discovery of the “new” continent of the Americas, the detailed exploration of other parts of the world, as ell as the documentation of Europeans lands.

The second strand will highlight the latest century with its complex and contested image-production tied to cultural identity, covering for instance the ideals of Americanization, National Socialist conceptions of cultural-racial identities, and the ceremonial communication of the suicide bomber photograph.
Effective start/end date2014/01/012016/12/31