Journal of Human Values 28 (2):143-160 (2022)

Journal of Human Values, Volume 28, Issue 2, Page 143-160, May 2022. Recent decades have witnessed an unprecedented amount of conflict around visual representations in India. The field of the visual is the new terrain for rumour mongering and for maiming uncomfortable oppositional voices. With the fast-spreading mobile culture, penetrating social media and continued legacy of the pictorial as an embodiment of the real, the visual has taken over both the oral as well as the written words in its usefulness to serve the political. Can we simply comprehend such a visual aggression by taking recourse in the enhanced role of visual media in our everyday life, along the lines of a ‘visual turn’? Is the visual sphere another surface of politics? With these key questions, this article revisits certain contemporary visual events by focusing on words that float in public spaces from streets to television screens. On a broader terrain, with an emphasis on aesthetics, the article relooks at an often-settled equation between the visual and the political on the one hand and the question of the visual as an archive of the contemporary on the other. Following Rancière’s notion of aesthetics as a field of the distribution of the sensible, this article has tried to focus on vernacular words circulating outside the confines of the literature and create a domain of political communication hitherto ignored by scholars.
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DOI 10.1177/09716858221079005
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