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Authority Representation as a Visual Cultural Discourse in the Middle East
In this article, I analyze how authority is represented in visual culture, how it is interpreted by the targeted audience, and what is the effect of national cultures on the way it is represented and interpreted. I aim to explore how political leaders in the Middle East used visuals to impose disciplinary power and control their people’s minds; furthermore, I aim to probe the role of national culture in impacting how authority is represented. Drawing upon Foucault’s premises that human subjects and social practices are products of historically created discourses where national culture plays a powerful role in building the coding system. I use Foucault's analytical framework of genealogy from a historical perspective, treating each visual work I discuss as a visual discourse. The primary goal of my research is to understand the rationale behind the deployment of symbols of power and their interpretation by individuals in accordance with their national cultures. The focus of this paper is to explore three related questions: How do political leaders represent authority in the Middle East? How does national culture affect the construction and visual representation of leadership figures? What is the effect of national culture on 'viewers' perceptions and interpretations of visual representations of authority? This paper expands the scope of the inquiry by looking at the use of visual culture and art in representing authoritarian figures in certain countries of the Middle East region. Thus, after discussing the key concepts of culture, visual art, authority, power, and discourse, the paper's core is an analysis of three visual works for authoritarians who successfully controlled their countries and represented a range of national cultures. To this end, it will call on visual culture studies, power of gaze, and national culture to highlight how visual representative messages are used to create a powerful instrument to control human minds and to build docile bodies in the Middle East region. Keywords: Authority, images, visual culture, power, gaze, national culture, The Middle East.
Art/Art History
Media Arts
Geographic Area
All Middle East
Arab States
Sub Area