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The Emotional and Political Power of Images of Suffering: Discursive Psychology and the Study of Visual Rhetoric

Byford, Jovan (2019). The Emotional and Political Power of Images of Suffering: Discursive Psychology and the Study of Visual Rhetoric. In: Gibson, Stephen ed. Discourse, Peace and Conflict: Discursive Psychology Perspectives. Peace Psychology Book Series. Springer, pp. 285–302.

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Drawing on insights from discursive and rhetorical approaches in psychology, the chapter examines responses to the publication of the photographs of the body of Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian refugee who drowned off the coast of Turkey in 2015. The chapter considers how and why the images were constructed as inherently ‘moving’, and as possessing the power to elicit emotions, and affect the audience on a ‘visceral’ level. It also looks at how accounts of (and for) emotional reactions to the images were deployed rhetorically to manage accountability associated with viewing, and sharing, images of a dead child. Through the examination of the Kurdi images the chapter also considers the possibility of a psychologically-informed approach to visual rhetoric, one that offers a better understanding of how and why certain images (but not others) are constituted as topics of humanitarian concern, and a source of emotional and political investment.

Item Type: Book Section
Copyright Holders: 2018 Springer Nature Switzerland AG
ISBN: 3-319-99093-4, 978-3-319-99093-4
Keywords: discursive psychology; peace psychology; photography; refugees; visual rhetoric
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Psychology
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Item ID: 55331
Depositing User: Jovan Byford
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2018 15:33
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2019 17:01
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