19 June 2019 from 14:30 to 15:30

PhD defence Rutger van der Hoeven on the global visual memory

Raising the US flag on Iwo Jima (Joe Rosenthal, 1945)
Raising the US flag on Iwo Jima (Joe Rosenthal, 1945)

On June 19 Rutger van der Hoeven will defend his PhD thesis The Global Visual Memory. A Study of the Recognition and Interpretation of Iconic and Historical Photographs at the University Hall.

Our world is saturated with photographs that hit our screens and newspapers, and then disappear from our view again. A fraction of these photographs survive, are reprinted and republished, and become well-known photographs that are associated with a particular event in history. Many scholars believe that such photographs shape our collective memory and view of history. Yet factual, evidence-based research into these iconic images and the way they function in culture and society has remained limited.

Drs. Rutger van der Hoeven
Drs. Rutger van der Hoeven

recognition and interpretation

That limited amount of evidence-based research leaves many questions unanswered. Which of these iconic and historic images are actually recognized by general audiences in countries across the world? What differences in recognition are there between countries such as the United States, Brazil, Russia, Germany, or China? What differences are there between generations, or different regions of the world? Do political opinions, education level, or media use impact one’s recognition of iconic and historical photographs? And what do people in countries across the world actually ‘read’ as the central message of such photographs?

Links: Guerrilero Heroico / Che Guevara (Alberto Korda, 1960). Rechts: Migrant Mother (Dorothea Lange, 1936)
Left: Guerrilero Heroico / Che Guevara (Alberto Korda, 1960). Right: Migrant Mother (Dorothea Lange, 1936)

global visual memory

This study addresses these and other questions. Based on a survey in twelve countries, it identifies five ‘ways of seeing’: ways of interpreting photographs found among people across the world. It defines iconic and widely recognized photographs of historical events as cultural vehicles that can become part of a global visual memory: images that are recognized by audiences across the world. This study also identifies six photographs that we should consider as being part of this global visual memory.

Moon landing (Neil Armstrong, 1969)
Moon landing (Neil Armstrong, 1969)
Start date and time
19 June 2019 14:30
End date and time
19 June 2019 15:30
PhD candidate
Rutger van der Hoeven
Dissertation
The Global Visual Memory. A Study of the Recognition and Interpretation of Iconic and Historical Photographs
PhD supervisor(s)
Prof. J. van Eijnatten