South-South Dialogue and the Decolonial Aesthetic Debate
Is an ongoing research project focused on the interplay between the geopolitical designs of the EU and intercultural visual studies in the region. Making use of a cross-cultural approach, the project surveys the general perception of Europe as a coherent and diverse cultural reality. By juxtaposing issues such as intercultural negotiation, migratory aesthetics, diverse understandings of neighborliness, and symbolic struggle, this project attempts to elaborate on the decolonial dilemmas that the reinvention and promotion of Europe as a coherent and diverse cultural reality is facing today, both spatially and symbolically.

At around the same way as the making of the imperial nations required visual mediations, cultural identifications and subjective affiliations with symbolic constituents such as the territory, the historical foundations of the State’s power, and the specificity of a shared language, among other modern/colonial visual representations, the rebuilding of Europe in a globalized world economy attempts to deal, not without controversies, with postcolonial diversity and alterity by means of representational discourses and visual statements. By virtue of the symbolic burden of European colonial expansionism and because of the inherited legacies of ethnographic eurocentrism, visual studies are required to engage carefully and critically with a series of dilemmas concerning the nature of intercultural story telling, visual translation and the geopolitical orchestration of Europeanness nowadays. Moreover, visual studies in/about Europe should not avoid or ignore the existence of the following paradox: when enhancing diversity and inclusiveness within its cultural territory, Europe simultaneously demands recognition of its matchless role in modernizing ‘the rest of the world’ and fosters the sense of unity, coherence and cultural homogeneity of the region by flaunting its exceptional role in commanding the progressive development of the world. In examining the postcolonial remaking of Europeanness through visual practices, the network looks to open up a dialogue on the production of cultural narratives that characterize today’s Europe as an enlarged/expanded/terrratorialized and deterratorialized project. The expansion of Europe requires not only a political and economical international agenda but also a broader understanding of the transcultural purpose and visual strategies behind the idea of living with diversity.

Visual Culture Studies in/about Europe has nothing to do with disseminating abroad a particular understanding of visuality but rather with problematizing the Europeanness as a Westernized global imaginary and provincializing Eurocentric visual regimes linked up with modern colonialism. From this point of view, the European scope of Visual Culture Studies stands in need of a renewed transnational approach determined by and determining of a decolonizing impulse.

Beyond the so-called ‘clash of civilizations’ this ongoing research project attempts to open up a dialogue on the currencies of those cultural narratives which are in favor of the idea of living with diversity but hardly acknowledge the existence of a myriad of visual alterities and explicitly neglect the emergence of alternative practices of looking. Taking as a point of departure the strategic expansion and uneven porosity of the Europe’s political and cultural boundaries, this project will lay out the role that visual discourses and representational strategies have had in the process of reinvention and postcolonial relocation of the cultural image of Europe, with an emphasis on cultural diversity, art production/circulation, migratory aesthetics, cross-cultural partnership, geopolitical redefinitions, intercultural cooperation, representational democracy, academic/ artistic mobility, cultural policies, transnational cultural practices, visual universalism/ cosmopolitanism/provincialism, and cultural diplomacy. Some dirivng questions of this research are:

– By what means is visual culture participating in the remaking of Europe?

– What kind of intercultural visual challenges have emerged within the region during its latest geographical eastward enlargement? Are minority visual cultures experiencing a sort of uneven recognition at EU level in the same way that diverse minority languages have differential or no official recognition, and if so, how many and what sort of non-central visualities are ‘eligible’ for ‘admission’ into the European Union?

– What is it produced and who manages the image of the renewed, supposedly more diverse, and strategically more comprehensive EU-27?

– Which countries own the authority to disseminate their native visual understanding of Europe and which ones are doomed to be ‘translated’, in order to fit into the communitarian visual hegemonies?


As a part of its activities and in collaboration with the Visual Culture in Europe Network, gvc organized in 2011 an international conference under the title The Geopolitical and Intercultural Boundaries of Visual Culture. Held in Barcelona on April 11-12, this conference focused on the interplay between the estern enlargement of the EU and transnational visual studies in the region.


Regional/Transnational/Global Visual Studies
Cultural Institutions/Cultural Diplomacy/Multilateral Partnerships Concerning Visual Culture
Post-colonial/Decolonial Condition of Visual Studies
Diversifying/Ruling Visual Culture in Europe

Representational Democracy in the EU
Visual Diversities in Central Europe/East Central Europe/South East Europe
Expanding, Decentering, Diversifying and Disavowing Europeanness

Europe as a Cultural Project
The Image of Europe in the Media
Circulation of Art and Heritage (material/immaterial) within the Enlarged Europe

Visual Economy in Europe
Visual Creativity and Innovation in Europe
Consuming Visual Culture in Europe
Visualizing Volunteering in the European Cultural Economy (European Theme/2011)

Visual Studies within the ERA (European Research Area)
EHEA (European Higher Education Area)
Teaching, Learning and Visualizing Cultural Diversity in Europe
Academic Migrations within/from Europe


Researcher: Joaquín Barriendos ›››





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