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How images make world politics: International icons and the case of Abu Ghraib


This article introduces international icons to the field of International Relations. International icons are freestanding images that are widely circulated, recognised, and emotionally responded to. International icons come in the form of foreign policy icons familiar to a specific domestic audience, regional icons, and global icons. Icons do not speak foreign policy in and of themselves rather their meaning is constituted in discourse. Images rise to the status of international icons in part through images that appropriate the icon itself, either in full or through inserting parts of the icon into new images. Appropriations might be used and read as critical interventions into foreign policy debates, but such readings should themselves be subjected to analysis. A three-tier analytical and methodological framework for studying international icons is presented and applied in a case study of the hooded prisoner widely claimed to be emblematic of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

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Review of International Studies
  • ISSN: 0260-2105
  • EISSN: 1469-9044
  • URL: /core/journals/review-of-international-studies
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