The Notion of ‘Image’ and Eurocentrism


  • Jens Schröter

Ključne riječi:

Body, calligraphy, eurocentrism, masks, pedagogy, tattoos


The enormous variety of forms and uses of phenomena called ‘image’
has so far prevented the formation of a universally accepted concept of
the image. It is even questionable whether a unified concept of the image
encompassing all relevant phenomena is possible or whether the ‘image’
is not rather a historically changeable collective name of phenomena
grouped by family resemblances. the image seems to occur in almost all
cultures; for this reason alone, any study of the image should be differentiated
not only historically, but also interculturally. But this is not always
the case; therefore in this essay a certain Eurocentric bias in Western
concepts of the ‘image’ is critically discussed. Firstly, it will be presented
how ‘image’ is defined in certain mainstream discussions of image studies.
Secondly it will be shown that there are Eurocentric blind spots in these
discourses. The range of objects considered as images are restricted and
thereby especially non-European types of images are excluded. Three of
them will be mentioned: the tattoo, the mask and calligraphy and what
their difference to hegemonic western notions of the image as separated
from the body, to-be-looked-
at and non-performative entails. Tattooing,
calligraphy, the mask and much more could become the subject of research
projects and courses. The problem with such research and teaching
that reaches beyond the European horizon is twofold: First, simply not
everything can be done; researchers and teachers must reduce the variety
of possible objects. This cannot and should not lead to the exclusion of

non-European phenomena, but not everything can be included – complete
inclusion is impossible. Therefore, only a local coordination process
on what can be taught in modules such as ‘Interculturality’ or ‘Global
Media Culture’ can be done. The paper ends with some short notes
on the institutional and image-pedagogical consequences of this critique.




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