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Workshop "Artful Bodies: Charisma and the Aesthetics of Power"

Jul 17, 2015 - Jul 18, 2015

Is it artful representation that transforms flesh and blood men such as Mao or Gandhi into charismatic presences? This is the principal question we ask in this workshop, as we acknowledge that such representations can take many forms. A leader’s “image” consists of his political program and the values this embodies; of his political deeds and merits; of the associates he surrounds himself with; of his reception and reputation; and of the coding inscribed into his public appearance including his body language, clothing, hairdo, beard and mien as they might appear in paintings, photographs, as they might be lampooned in cartoons or as they might be idealized in musical, literary, philosophical, political, elite and popular “texts.” Political iconography is a well-established field, but its material and argumentative base remains largely restricted to specific regions or cultures. The question of how particular leaders’ representations or “images” may have travelled globally is what we seek to address in the context of this workshop. We hope that our contributors will study the particular iconographic traits of charismatic leadership and that they will explore the circulation of such imagery over time and across space. We also hope that participants in the workshop will also consider the complex interplay between idolization and demonization that contribute to the development of such charismatic iconography. Not least, we are interested in bringing to the fore “the art,” literally, of power, especially the exercise of masculine power in the context of complex political and stately performances.

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