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(Re)thinking Orientalism

Using Graphic Narratives to Teach Critical Visual Literacy

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Rachel Bailey Jones

(Re)thinking Orientalism is a text that examines the visual discourse of Orientalism through the pedagogy of contemporary graphic narratives. Using feminist, critical race, and postcolonial theoretical and pedagogical lenses, the book uses visual discourse analysis and visual semiology to situate the narratives within Islamophobia and neo-Orientalism in the post-9/11 media context. In the absence of mainstream media that tells the complex stories of Muslim Americans and Muslims around the world, there has been a wave of publications of graphic narratives written and drawn from various perspectives that can be used to create curriculum that presents culture, religion, and experience from a multitude of perspectives. The book is an accessible, upper level undergraduate/graduate level text written to give readers insights into toxic xenophobia created through media representation. It provides a theoretical foundation for students to engage in critical analysis and production of visual media.
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3 Visualizing Difference, Decoding Representation

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CHAPTER THREE

Visualizing Difference, Decoding Representation

The contemporary field of visual culture and visual literacy relies on the vast array of technology, mobile devices, and the Internet. The formations of identity, connections that create imaginary communities of affiliation, are processes that do not happen in a vacuum. Many scholars label a relatively new form of identity, the cosmopolitan, more at home in the global community than any local one. This idea of a certain identity does not have a single mooring but rather a sense of home that moves across borders. Another, but distinct, relation to the idea of the cosmopolitan is the idea of border theory. Border theory focuses on the literal and figural space that exists near and at the border of countries and cultures. These border sites are places of interaction and exchange that create new forms of identity. Visual images travel instantly around the globe and are shared on social media sites, news sites, and in other uncontrollable and unpredictable means. Many of the images of difference encountered on social media sites such as Facebook are from global travel of friends and associates. The images help shape and frame our understandings of what other lands and people look like and how they relate to our own lives. Critical anthropologist James Clifford (1997) wrote of many forms of travel and how the movement of people and the representation of those travels form key sites of identity construction and ← 47 | 48 → understanding of the...

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