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Visualising state biographical narratives: A rhetorical analysis of Chinese and North Korean propaganda photographs

Abstract
Biographical narratives generate a continuous sense of political community across the state’s past, present and future, and provide the state with ontological security. Building on growing International Relations scholarship that highlights the power of visuals in shaping global politics, our article proposes visual rhetorical analysis as a tool to interrogate how governments employ images to tell their biographical narratives. The rhetorical approach transcends the methodological divide in the current ‘visual turn’ literature between the cognitive psychological and poststructuralist perspectives. We illustrate the analytical value of the rhetorical approach through an empirical study of how the totalitarian regimes of China and North Korea communicate their biographical narratives – the ‘rightful great power’ narrative and the ‘family state’ narrative, respectively – through propaganda imagery of their leaders. To this end, we develop a close semiotic reading of selected photographs of Xi Jinping and Kim Jong-un in different narrative settings.
Type
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Series
Citation
Date
2023-10-28
Publisher
SAGE Publications
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Rights
© 2023. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence.