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Calls For Papers

#Looking for the Common Good. Visual Rhetorics and Human Rights

Type: Calls For Papers [View all]
Posted by: Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut
Deadline: Thu, December 12th, 2019

 Call for Papers

by the MINERVA Research Project 
"The Nomos of Images. Manifestation and Iconology of Law"
Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut


#Looking for the Common Good. Visual Rhetorics and Human Rights


The claim for universal human rights is not restricted to proclamations of international conventions. On the contrary, the history of human rights has been intertwined with the history of images on many levels. Questions about photography and the emergence of human rights after WWII have lately strongly shaped academic debates. Also long before images have been subject or manifestoes of the debates on universal rights of all human kind. To the ’Nomoi’ research blog ( will be added a new "pictorial glossary", which aims to present research on the role of images within the history of human rights from early modern times until today. 

Contributions should seek to combine aesthetics and legal history in different critical and contextualized readings of human rights discourses: How did and still do images stimulate discourses about human rights and their acceptance and what is their contribution to shape, implement and legitimize fundamental human rights or to initiate movements? How do they negotiate the subject positions of victims and agents, function as evidences of rights violations or as visual remembrances of such? Alternatively, how can images also violate human rights or manifest inequalities themselves when neglecting the dignity of individuals or groups? 

These questions may be analyzed by usage of various kinds of visual media (print media, photography, caricatures, film, art and architecture but also more recent examples from the social media). The political agency of victims and their visual representations may be traced back to early modern times and different political contexts as for example during the struggles between the conquistadores and the native Americans. The arrival of photography as the basis of new forms of mass communication that emerged during the 1940s fostered a closer alignment of usage of photography and political debates concerning implementations and acceptance of human rights, but also led to ethical debates about limits of representability which continue until today. Moreover, as in recent history digitization shapes strongly the life of society, different visual languages and visual media developed. While photography for a long time promised to function as evidence to the violation of rights, the integrity of visual evidence in digital photography has been fundamentally questioned and added more complexities and definitional problems within the accepted rules of evidentiary procedure. It is also within these transformations of visuality that the power of the visual in light of human rights debates need to be discussed. 

Articles should not exceed 6.000 characters (spaces included) and be handed in as a word document. The contributions should be written in English or German. Italian or French may be accepted according to prior agreement with the editors. Suggestions for topics may be made until 12 December 2019. Abstracts should be submitted by 31 December 2019. Publications will be provided with an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN). Please send your abstract proposal to: and

The Minerva Research Project "The Nomos of Images. Manifestation and Iconology of Law" at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut lead by Dr. Carolin Behrmann is concerned with the history and life of images in legal contexts (



Posted on Wed, November 27th, 2019
Expires on Thu, December 12th, 2019

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