Medien|Denken – Rosalind C. Morris – Terror and the Address of the Image

03.05.2016 | ROSALIND C. MORRIS (Columbia University / NY, USA)

Terror and the Address of the Image


What does it mean to be terrorized by an image? To terrorize another with an image?  Above all, the   viewer must feel her or himself to be addressed. She must be addressed not merely as one of many anonymous recipients in a public sphere where images are constantly broadcast. Rather, the terrorized viewer feels herself to be named, to be the recipient and the inhabitant of the proper address. This naming nonetheless depends on a temporal dislocation, and on the specter of a future recurrence of the event imaged, such that the viewer-cum-addressee feels that she will be  there, in the place of the event’s second arrival: transformed from one who sees into the one whose wounding is seen. Such, I argue, is the logic of imagistic terror. To explore this issue, I examine a history of images of terror/ism in South Africa, making reference to recent debates about terroristic iconoclasm in the context of the global ‘War on Terror.’

Biographical Note

Rosalind Morris focuses her fieldwork in two main areas: South Africa and mainland Southeast Asia, especially Thailand. Her earlier scholarship focused on the history of modernity in Southeast Asia and the place of the mass   media in its development, particularly in the encounter between old and new forms of mediation. More recently, she has been writing an ethnography of South Africa’s mining communities. Traversing these fields of inquiry, her work addresses questions of the relationships between value and violence; aesthetics and the political; the sexualization of power and desire; and the history of anthropological thought and social theory. In her formally wide-ranging writings on all of these issues, she attends specifically to the problem of language, and the matter of representation.
Rosalind Morris has served as a Director of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, an Associate Director of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and is the former co-editor of CONNECT: art, politics, theory,  culture. She is also the founding editor of ‘The Africa List,’ for Seagull Books.

Christian Heinke