IMAGES Journal for Visual Studies

events: Visual studies today: The power of images


Almira Ousmanova
Local and Global in Shaping of the Research Agenda for Visual Culture Studies

The global expansion of visual culture studies has challenged the “identity” of traditional disciplines and produced a visible impact on the intellectual landscape in those countries where visual studies have been institutionalized in one form or another (through academic programs, journals, research centers and so on). The increasing accessibility and ‘democratization’ of the technologies of image production, the radical transformation of media landscapes in the age of Internet, the growing economic importance of the creative industries’ sector, the omnipresence of sophisticated forms of electronic surveillance and control, etc. All this has led to rethinking of the role of visual images in our everyday life, and, thus, fostered shaping of new research agenda for scholars. Yet, despite the universal preconditions of the ‘visual turn’ and the formation of common conceptual framework, the ‘ideologies’ of visual studies, as well as their theoretical ‘styles’ and research priorities vary considerably from place to place. In the presentation I will focus on a series of questions related to the development of visual culture studies in the post-Soviet region, and will address some specific methodological hindrances and theoretical restraints, inherent to it. To name but few: “the West and the Rest” in the production of theory in visual studies; the legacy of the Soviet past, or the ‘blank spots’ and ‘critical orphans’ in the global history of visual arts; the ideological (mis)recognition, or the political unconscious of visual studies in Post-Soviet academia; ‘lost in translation”, or the question of the language of theory and its local variations.