Visual images are everywhere in international politics. But how are we to understand them?

In Sensible Politics, William A. Callahan uses his expertise in theory and filmmaking to explore not only what visuals mean, but also how visuals can viscerally move and connect us in “affective communities of sense.”

The book’s rich analysis of visual images (photographs, film, art) and visual artifacts (maps, veils, walls, gardens, cyberspace) shows how critical scholarship needs to push beyond issues of identity and security to appreciate the creative politics of social-ordering and world-ordering. It challenges our Eurocentric understanding of international politics by exploring the meaning and impact of visuals from Asia and the Middle East.

The presentation will discuss these conceptual issues through an analysis of two controversies of interest to IR specialists and policymakers: the visual politics of the US-Mexico barrier and the Great Wall of China; and the global politics of surveillance and cyber security.

William A. Callahan is professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His recent books include Sensible Politics: Visualizing International Relations (OUP, 2020), China Dreams: 20 Visions of the Future (OUP, 2015) and China: The Pessoptimist Nation (OUP: 2010). Callahan also makes documentary films: ‘Great Walls’ (2019) asks why we hate Trump’s wall and love the Great Wall of China.

Research Director at NUPI, Ole Jacob Sending will moderate the seminar.