168 Jadavpur Journal of International Relations 22(2)
by connecting its theoretical implications with the larger picture of
globalization. It picks up some of the widely circulated photographs
of the ‘backward’ Third World countries around the world as illustrative
instances and shows how these photographs capture the phenomenon
of essentialization reflecting a common narrative of suffering.
Globalization, photography, essentialization, bio-power, Third World
Visual data can be conceived as potentially anything ‘observable to the
human eye’ conveying any sort of information (Emmison and Smith
2007: 4). Visual representation plays a central role in the process of
meaning construction and communication through visual data. These
representations manifest through the language as a body of thought and
facilitate knowledge production. Therefore, visual representations end
up describing the beliefs about the reality rather than depicting the reality
itself. Visual images are one of the significant forms of visual representation.
Gombrich captures this, ‘We are living in a visual age. We are bombarded
by pictures from morning to night’ (Gombrich and Woodfield 1996:
41, cited in Emmison and Smith 2007).
The question arises whether visual images are benign in nature?
Though they seem to reproduce the reality, frequently their meanings are
artificially created and subjectively interpreted. Thus, images produce
the convenient truth about the world instead of replicating the reality.
Visual images encompass eclectic visual representations such as advertising,
cartoons, textual images, films, art, paintings, 3D images, etc. This study
focuses on photography as a means of visual representation. Photography
implies knowing about the world, as the camera records it, although the
camera’s rendering of reality hides more than it reveals (Sontag 1978: 23).
Due to the rapid expansion of connectivity and mobility in the era of
globalization, the flow of information and visual images has been rampant.
Globalization catalyzes not only the circulation of photographs but also
the meanings attached with them. Globalization is characterized as ‘the
economic, social, cultural, and political processes of integration that
result from the expansion of transnational economic production,
migration, communications, and technologies’ (Stanford Encyclopedia