Authors Archives: Gabriele Dietze

Occidentalist Visual Politics. 'Orientalizing' Barack Obama and Angela Merkel.

In last decades photos and other visual media representation developed into central tools of political staging. (Bennett & Entman, 2000). Media scholar Kristen Marek (2007: 27) concludes, that politics has always to be understood as ‘order of images’, engendering visibility and spatiality. In the last Iraq war the US press corps waited for days to cover the symbolic act of tearing down a Saddam Hussein monument by enraged Iraqis. They finally gave in, leaving the symbolic act to US soldiers and documenting it anyway. Barack Obama – then candidate for the US presidency – held a foreign policy speech in Berlin and aimed for TV footage in front of the Brandenburg Gate, in order to attach himself to the iconography of the last ‘just’ American war and its symbols such as the airlift and the tumbling of the ‘Wall’. German chancellor Angela Merkel – stingy with German cultural capital – did not allow Obama to use the historically charged site, indicating that the speaker is only a candidate and not an elected president.

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