Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

The Visual Politics of Recognition: Understanding the Role of Images in Recognition Encounters

Project description

The global political power of images

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Imagine the effect of official photographs of world leaders meeting at a summit on global politics. These images shape international events and the public’s general understanding of current affairs when widely shared across the various social media channels. As regards relations between countries, images can feature the positive or negative dynamics. The EU-funded VISUAL project will investigate the role images play in global politics. It will also assess the role of gender in the visual politics of recognition. Using a case plus study method, the project will provide insight on how images can impact international relations.


Images are an important component of recognition between states: official photographs of high-level summit meetings, or images circulated by state representatives over Twitter, are used to visualise positive or negative interstate relationships that reflect, or challenge, established recognition dynamics. Despite the political importance of recognition, there are currently no studies on the visual politics of this process in International Relations. The purpose of the VISUAL project is to take the field a step further through the development of an innovative and original typology for the visual politics of recognition.

In VISUAL we have the unique opportunity to advance our knowledge of the role images play in global politics. Using a theoretically-driven, exploratory analytical methodology employing a mixed-methods approach, the project theorizes and conceptualises successful and failed recognition by situating images within a process we know is politically significant: EU, NATO and G7 summit meetings and the acrimonious Iran-US relationship. In addition hereto, VISUAL explores the role of gender in the visual politics of recognition, developing a feminist visual methodology, the first of its kind in International Relations. Using the 'case plus study' methodology, VISUAL will address three main research questions across three sub-studies: 1) What are the visual modalities of recognition, successful and failed? 2) How are rival interpretations of recognition in the Iran-US relationship visualised? 3) How are gender norms reproduced or challenged in images signifying successful or failed recognition?

I will significantly benefit from a placement at the Department of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen, under the supervision of Professor Lene Hansen, as it is the premiere international institution for the theoretical and empirical study of images in the field of International Relations.


Net EU contribution
€ 219 312,00
Norregade 10
1165 Kobenhavn

See on map

Danmark Hovedstaden Byen København
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00