3rd Edition

An Introduction to Visual Culture

By Nicholas Mirzoeff Copyright 2023
    328 Pages 129 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    328 Pages 129 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    In the fully rewritten third edition of this classic text, Nicholas Mirzoeff introduces visual culture as visual activism, or activating the visible. In this view, visual culture is a practice: a way of doing, making, and seeing.

    The 12 new chapters begin with five foundational concepts, including Indigenous ways of seeing, visual activism in the wake of slavery, and unfixing the gaze. The second section outlines three currently successful tactics of visual activism: removal of statues and monuments; restitution of cultural property; and practices of repair and reparations. The final section addresses catastrophe and trauma, from Palestine’s Nakba to the climate disaster and the intersections of plague and war. Each section also includes new, in-depth case studies called "Visualizations," ranging from oil painting to Kongo power figures and the mediated practice of taking a knee.

    Engaging with questions of racializing, colonialism, and undoing gender throughout, this edition maps the activist turn in the field since 2014 and sets directions for its future expansion. This is a key text in visual culture studies and an essential resource for research and teaching in the field.

    Introduction  Visualization 1: Perspective, Visuality and the Way of Seeing  Part 1. Foundational  1.Acknowledgement and Groundwork  2. Indigenous Ways of Seeing  3. In Slavery’s Wake  4.Surveillance and Counter-Surveillance  5.Unfixing the Gaze  Visualization 2: The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein  Visualization 3: The Decisive Moment and The Limits of Looking  Part 2. Tactics of Visual Activism  6. Removal  7.Restitution  8. Repair and Reparations  Visualization 4: Power Figures: Minkisi Nkondi  Part 3. Catastrophe  9. Nakba  10. The Climate {R}evolution  11. Plague and War  Visualization 5: Taking a Knee


    Nicholas Mirzoeff is Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University.

    "Sensitive to current debates about the politics of articulation that ground our understanding of visual culture, visual activism, and visual relations, Mirzoeff’s third edition develops new frameworks for the analysis of image culture. Leveraging the book’s original concerns—the legacy of slavery, refugees and surveillance, global capital and colonial histories—Mirzoeff reinvigorates his arguments, drawing on contemporary events and social movements with insight and urgency. Provocative, relevant and iconoclastic, An Introduction to Visual Culture remains a critical text for students across the disciplines."

    Jennifer A. González, UC Santa Cruz, United States

    "The newly revised 3rd edition of Nicholas Mirzoeff’s anti-foundational classic issues the rallying call for refusing the resignations of merely describing visual culture as it is. Showing us how to activate and motivate the real and urgent question of what visual culture does and how to practice it, this primer is also the manifesto on method that takes us from the groundwork of acknowledgment through tactics for visual activism and ways of confronting catastrophe, while never losing sight of the power of the strike as lens and the ways we may yet forge relation in becoming visible to one another by consent. This new edition may be a renewed classic but not for the shelf. As open theory forged in practice, it calls to be used, to be put to the test of sharing out as widely as possible, seeing with and past it, activating the visible for ourselves and each other."

    Jill Casid, University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States