The Battle of Images: Politics, Iconicity, and Collective Memory

Ekatherina Zhukova, Postdoc 

This subprojects looks at how images from the past traumatic events are mobilized online in the present day conflicts and how they change the trajectory of these conflicts as well as our understanding of the past tragic events. It uses the case study of the current crisis in Ukraine to investigate how it shapes and is shaped by the two past traumas – the Soviet famine in Ukraine (Holodomor, 1932-1933) and the Second World War in Russia (1941-1945). The goal of the subproject is to study (a) how digital media changes “the life” of historical (pre-Internet) images of conflicts; (b) how silenced traumas of the past get the “voice” in the present through digital media; (c) how historical and contemporary images from different traumatic events are interrelated and “feed” each other; (d) how different actors – from politicians to citizens – mobilise competing images on different media platforms to give meaning to the past and present tragic events.

The subproject builds on the theories of iconic images (Campbell, 2011; Kurasawa, 2012; Mortensen, 2016; Perlmutter, 1998) and collective memory (Cohen, Boudana, and Frosh, 2018; Eyerman, 2011; Halbwachs, 1992; Mark-FitzGerald, 2012), among others. The subproject is interdisciplinary in nature, with a particular interest in sociological approaches to images (Alexander, 2015, Kurasawa, 2012) and visual turn in political science (Hansen, 2015; Olesen, 2016). Methodologically, the subproject uses a mixed-method approach which combines quantitative and qualitative content analyses and discourse analysis.