Lutz & Collins

G205 WEEK 9

National Geographic
Magazine themes in book (Lutz & Collins): Discussion:

y Social hierarchy y evolutionary theory of

y What are your general

society y Universal humanity y Positivism

observations of or thoughts about National Geographic 

Who is the audience? What media are involved?

Reading National Geographic Methodologies (in ³The Color of Sex´)
Medium: Magazine 

Some findings 

Issues comparatively 19501986. Content analysis of photographs Advertising U.S. History 1st World (³reality´) vs. 3rd World (³fantasy´)

Colorism (292-5); NG creates ³racial spaces´ 292-3; Hierarchy Sexism? Positivism refers to a set of epistemological perspectives and philosophies of science which hold that the scientific method is the best approach to uncovering the processes by which both physical and human events occur.

Science or Entertainment?
y In contrast to Sut Jhally¶s analysis of commercial

photography, National Geographic both produces knowledge and represents it through the photographic image. y Meaning is created selectively while destroying original context (p. 23) y How does NG do this?

What did Lutz & Collins say about this?

Images from National Geographic (online)

1st world versus the 3rd world

The Primitive Contrast
y Identity formation draws upon the image of the other

contrast, inversion, opposition y Content of category non-Western or ³primitive´ change over time ± used to construct alterego or confirm western ³Our book is not at all about the non-Western world but about its appropriation by the West and National Geographic¶s role in that appropriation.´ Collins & Lutz y NG ³invites (readers) to look out at the rest of the world from the vantage point of the world¶s most powerful nation.´(p.7) 

1st versus 3rd World What do these designations mean?

Three Worlds?

The three worlds as they were separated during the Cold War era (1939±1983), each with its respective allies. Colors do not represent current economical development. First World: the United States and its allies. Second World: the Soviet Union, China and their allies. Third World: Non-aligned and neutral countries.

Third World
y The term "Third World" arose during the Cold War

to define countries that remained non-aligned or not moving at all with either capitalism and NATO (which along with its allies represented the First World) or communism and the Soviet Union (which along with its allies represented the Second World). y This definition provided a way of broadly categorizing the nations of the Earth into three groups based on social, political, and economic divisions that began some time around the 1930s in America.

The Color of Sex, Lutz & Collins
y Race is a trope (signifier) of ultimate irreducible

difference between groups, cultures, etc.; y Inherently unstable and coded with complex social meanings, RACE must be ambiguous enough to change over time; y Like gender, race is a social category that is established through a constant process of identification--self identification and through external associations with categories and expectations (trope, signifier).

Objective Photography?
The naturalist argument in photography (p. 66) ± ³The value of the picture resides in its truth observation. This value is jeopardized to the extent that the photographer intervenes in the social circumstances, causing a rupture in what naturally would have happened´ (Becker, Art Worlds 1978) This is a structuralist argument in which objective truth is a given.
y What are some of the

pitfalls/advantages of ³objective´ truth claims?

Do Images Matter? ³more or less harmful ways of viewing difference´
y Strategies for describing human

differences have helped create and reproduce social hierarchies (p. 3)
y ³At the least these hierarchies have

created small humiliations and rejections, and have lessened opportunities. At the worst, they have abetted wars of extermination, lynching, and rape. Representations«are never irrelevant, never unconnected to the world of actual social relations.´

Racialized Spaces / Gendered Spaces
First world y ³Real´ people y Machine usage y White y Active Third World y Space of ³fantasy´ y Ritual practices y Passive y Colorism by activity (dark skin=more labor, poor, infantile) y Women represent ³women of the world´ y Women signify ³Universal Human powers´

The Color of Sex Discussion Questions
y How is nudity coded in y What happens to the

NG? How does viewing photographs differ from viewing ads? What does the title of the chapter mean?

gendering of public and private in the chapter? What are some consequences of understanding race as a trope and/or a signifier?

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