Mod-02 Lec-15 Representation Part 1


Hello and welcome to this lecture on representation,
which is a lecture in the second module of our series of lectures in the course cultural
studies, which is being recorded and recorded under the aegis of the National Programmed
on Technology Enhanced Learning, which is a joint venture by the Indian Institutes of
Technology and the Indian Institute of Science. We have already covered several lectures in
module 1 and we have looked at a few key concepts in module 2, which is our current module and
we will recall that, we discussed key concepts like subjectivity, identity. We devoted two
lectures to what I said is a very important key concept in cultural studies that of ideology.
And today, we are in another topic, which again is again a pivotal or seminal to studying
cultural studies and this is the topic called Representation. Like the key concept ideology,
representation is paramount so to speak in an understanding of cultural studies. So,
I would be devoting two lectures to this topic. Now, as always let us do recap of what we
learnt in the last lecture. You will recall that, we talked about ideology having several
definitions and we said that ideology may be seen as a set of ideals, ideas and ideals
as received consciousness as a systematic body of concepts and more importantly as maps
of meaning or pointers to the creation of meaning.
We also had occassion to look at a quotation from Chris barker which goes like this, today
the notion of ideology at best implies the binding and justifying ideas of all social
groups. And we will recall that, we focus on the two words binding and justifying, in
that the notion of ideology binds people together, brings people together as a collective and
they are also ideas which are justifying which justify you know a in themselves, why they
should be valuable and also binds people together as a community. Then we also looked at Douglas Kellner and
Meenakshi Durham’s words, wherein they say that, the concept of ideology forces readers
to perceive that all cultural texts have distinct biases, interests and embedded values.
So, here in you will recall that, they do away with you know the notion of neutrality
or the notion of some sort of a pristine innocence in the creation of meaning. And we are you
know an understanding an analysis of the term, key concept ideology enables us to understand
that all cultural texts, be the literary text, be the other forms of cultural artifacts,
in here in themselves distinct biases and embedded values. And they reproduce the point
of view of their producers and often the values of the dominant social group; this is an echo
really of what Marx has said if you would remember that, the ruling ideas of any age
are always the ideas of the ruling class. So, when you look at ideology we find that,
we find that ideology is a one such tool or the concept of ideology is one is a tool that
enables us to unearth, to speak or to uncover the biases and the interests of ideas. What
I will do is in the last you know because we have doing a recap here in the last lecture,
they were there were a couple of slides because of the positive of time, I had to leave them
out of the last lecture. So, in this recap, I shall be quickly looking at those as well. Then we looked at Althusser and his structural
Marxism, which talks about ideology as something that you know within which, we are as he says,
always already subjects and where you know we practice as he says, the rituals of ideological
recognition; a subjectivity within the Althusserian frame work is something that has already present. Then we looked at an important word called
interpellation in Althusser’s theory where he says that, ideology acts or functions in
such a way that it recruits subjects among individuals and transforms them. And then
he says, there is a hailing, there is a calling out, which may be even something as common
place as you there. So, cultural forms beckon to us, they call us to come and hit ourselves
you know in to in to the always you know you know already that is available to us in culture.
. Then we also looked at gramsci and you know
where it where and is important concept of hegemony and he talks about how consent to
the prevailing ideology is manufactured by people and it need not be always you know
coercive measure. So, to speak we went to the ideology and we
are coerced in a non violence out of our way, so consent is manufactured. I left out this
particular point, which is false consciousness and by you know by Marx and I will come back
to it by way of this recap. This is by Engels actually and I am quickly reading it, Engels
argued that ideology is a process accomplished by the so called thinker; consciously it is
true, but with a false consciousness. The real motive forces impelling him remain
unknown to him, now this is the connection between ideologies as false consciousness.
We are of course, what he calls so called thinkers, but we think you know false consciousness.
The motives of the dominant class that create this, it create our thinking are not available
to us and hence we always live in a false consciousness.
Otherwise, as he says here, otherwise it simply would not be an ideological process, if you
are conscious about it, it cannot be ideology. Hence, he or we imagine false or apparent
motives, what happens as a result is he says here, the realities of exploitation and subordination
of the ruled or masked or concealed by the false consciousness of the ruled or the working
class themselves. When there is an ideology that beckons to
us, you know although that we are recruited in Althusserian terms, we are recruited and
we are transformed then and when we give our consent to it in gramscian terms. What happens
is we end up being in a false consciousness as long as we are unaware of the motives of
the dominant class that creates the already for us. So, I thought it fit to bring this
point to your notice. Therefore, ideology is falsehood then, I will
end this recap with a quick reference to Roland Barthes, whom you recall we had occasion to
meet in our lecture on structuralism. And this is what he says about myths, in mythologies
his book mythologies. He says here, the bourgeois ideology, he is talking about bourgeois ideology
continually transforming the products of history into essential type, and this also is a part
of the ideology ok. Now, bourgeois come further down, bourgeois
morality will essentially be a weighing operation, the essences will be placed in scales of which
bourgeois man will remain the motionless beam. What Barthes is drawing attention to is the
myths that are sort of congeal, that the coless after repetition, after several usage, these
bourgeois myths are myths that transform us into types that become essential. Then he says for the very end of myths is
to immobilize the world, they must suggest and mimic a universal order, which has fixated
once and for all the hierarchy of possessions. Down in the last paragraph says, myths are
nothing but, this ceaseless untiring solicitation, this insidious and inflexible demand that
all men recognize themselves in the image. In this sense, the myths or the image is also
one of interpellation, the image calls out to us to conform ourselves to it, ok.
Yet an eternal, yet bearing a date, which was built of them one day as if for all time
and in finally, we come to you already acquainted with his person Stuart hall on common sense
and he also brings in the you know the something that we rely on so much and something we feel
is a given that of common sense. And I am quoting from him, it is precisely
its spontaneous quality, the spontaneous quality of common sense, its transparency, its naturalness
and its refusal to be made to examine the premises on which it is founded, its resistance
to change or correction, its effect of instant recognition and the closed circle in which
it moves, which makes common sense and at the same time, spontaneous, ideological and
unconscious. The important thing to be notice here is that, the very spontaneity of common
sense hides from you know hides from us, the fact that it is ideological ok.
So, many commonsensical things as many critics say are really not sensible. Then further,
you cannot learn through common sense how things are, you can only discover where they
fit into the existing scheme of things. In this way, it is very what do you say is taken
for grantedness; taken for grantedness in which establishes it as a medium in which
its own premises and presuppositions are being rendered invisible by its apparent transparency.
So, the spontaneity of common sense, the way it taken for grantedness or common sense,
the apparent transparency of common sense as knowledge is something that hides the ideology
behind it. So, the point made by Stuart hall here is that, common sense itself is saturated
and itself is filled with ideology. Well, after the recap we now come to the topic,
which you know the topic of discussion in the current lecture, which is representation.
And as I mentioned in the beginning, I shall be devoting two lectures to this topic. First, let us look at the dictionary meaning
of representation as given to us by the Chambers Twentieth-Century Dictionary. Representation
is an act or a state or a fact of representing or being represented. Representation stands
for that which represent something, may be all images, pictures, demotic performances,
mental images, a presentation of a view of facts or arguments. If a representation may
also be in legal terms of petition or in political terms a petition, it can be a remonstrance
and expostulation, and assumption of succession by an air, it can also refer to a body of
representators. So, the dictionary meaning of representation is not really what we discuss
or what we take for an understanding of the term representation in cultural studies ok.
In of course, these all these are a part of that, but there is a definite political shade
to the term representation as we employ it in cultural studies. Now, we shall look at one such way and as
in several times, Chris Barker’s definition in the sage dictionary of cultural studies
comes in handy. So, I am going to you know in this lecture, I am I am going to really
focus on two persons, two critiques, one is Chris barker and the other is Dani Cavallaro.
And in the lecture after this, in the second part of representation, I shall be looking
at work done by Stuart hall and a few other critiques. For a you know beginning of beginning
of unpack the term, you know representation it is its suffices for us to take up Chris
Barker and Dani Cavallaro’s work. Now, let us read a set of processes by which
signifying practices appear to stand for or depict another object are present sorry practiced
in the real world. Then look at the kind of words that are being used here by Chris Barker
ok. Representation he takes from the dictionary meaning, he takes it to mean that representation
is a representation or a standing in for something else or a standing for something else, we
will read this again. Representation refers to a set of process by which signifying practices
appear to stand for or depict another object or practice in the real world.
So, there is therefore, you know there is a difference between an object as it stands
or as it is in the real world, and the way or the you know the object or the artifact
or the image the as you seen in the last slide, image or the picture or the mental image that
we employ you know to stand for that real object. So, in this itself they you know the
disconnect is already available to us here, is already apparent to us here, as pointed
out by Chris Barker. Now, let us see what he says further. Representation is thus an
act of symbolism, the you know we are all we all have an idea of what symbolism is the
use of symbols to stands for something else. Representation is thus an act of symbolism
that mirrors an independent object world. However, now he is moving away from the dictionary
definition, he says, however for cultural studies, representation does not simply reflect
in symbolic forms ‘things’ that exist in an independent object world. There is a
problematic here, as is indicated by Chris Barker’s words he says, within the domain
of cultural studies, there is no pure reflection is in here, representation is not a direct
you know reflection in symbolic forms of things that exist independently in and a sort of
outside world ok. Rather he says, and this is extremely important
for our understanding of the way representation is a tool or a key concept in cultural studies.
Rather representations are constitutive of the meaning of which they purport to stand
in for; in the sense, now you will realize that, the represented more than the represented
object. The representation, the object that represents is given more importance, look
at this again, representations are constitutive, they are not reflective of the meaning, and
they are constitutive of the meaning of that, which they purport to stand in for. That is
why we need to look it is important when the represented object is not important, the representation
is important. Then we need to look at what that representation is doing, what ideology
go is behind you know that particular representation, which is constitutive of the meaning, it is
not simply reflective. Then he says, in the last paragraph that is
representation does not involve correspondence between signs and objects. There is no direct
correspondence, there is no you know unmediated correspondence, there is no so to speak an
innocent correspondence between the object that you know that is represented and the
representation that stands in so to speak for that object. So, Barker says that is representation
does not involve correspondence between signs and objects, but creates the representational
effect of realism. So, representation here is understood or it
is you know evaluated more in terms of the effect that is created by such symbolism,
the effect that is created by such standing in for. So, we realize by now that, we have
already moved in with help of Chris Barker from the dictionary meaning of representation
as something that you know stands in for something and it is reflective of something ok. What
are the important words here? The important words here are you know that are that they
are constitutive; constitutive is the meaning of which the purport to stands for representational
effect, that it is the effect of the representation that is more important than the object, ok. Now, if you look at it in a schematic way
in the slide, signifying practices are acts of symbolism, are acts of representation,
which are supposed to mirror, they are suppose to mirror reality. The problem here is this,
in the very active mirroring or in this very so called mimetic act, there are several factors
that come in which have to do with ideology, which have to do it power, which have to do
with politics as long as we are studying this under the domain of cultural studies and importantly
as is shown here in this slide. So, there is a non correspondence, we have already sort
of dealing it from the object been represented and then we are going to study the representational
effect. Therefore, representation in this slide, representation
have to do with not just material objects, representation is not simply a matter of representing
material objects; it is important that representation is also a social practice. Representation
is a social practice, and meaning and intelligibility of whether material objects or mental objects,
meaning and intelligibility are tied down to social practices.
Now, for the purposes of this slide, can you name the term that we can use for social practices?
The term that we can use for social practices in this case is therefore, ideology. Now,
if you look at the slide here, it is ideology that is behind representation which ultimately
gives us the meaning and intelligibility of any phenomenon, ok.
Now, again as barker has said, the meaning and intelligibility are not a you know are
not are not separate are not separate from what they purport to tell us or to represent
to us, at the same time, they are constitutive of that. Therefore, representation like ideology
is a map of meaning, now the important thing to understand here is that, representation
is not only a map of meaning, in this we are we understood you know maps of meaning, what
this mean in our lecture on ideology. They are like ideology maps of meaning but, importantly,
they also the representations also constitute that map.
There is a certain difference between ideology as maps of meaning and representation as maps
of meaning, in the sense at there is a second element here, like ideology representations
are maps of meaning and secondly, representation also constitutes that map, why? Because in
this case, we are interested not in the object that is represented.
We are interested in the fact that, the representation itself is constitutive of or constitutes that
map, so much so that we can even say within cultural studies representation is all. The
real objects so to speak remains you know sort of left behind and it is that is why
representation is so loaded with ideology. It is important for us to unrivaled or you
know uncovered, all that goes into the building of the representation itself; all that inheres
in creating a representation effect, why? Because, after all we deal with representations,
after all we do not deal with objects in a direct you know in a direct reference all
the time, right. When something when we For instance, when
we speak about something, we have already you know under taking the process of representing
something, you speak about anything, you speak about any person, any critique, any scientist
and his works, we are the moment we use language, we are already creating it, recreating it,
representing it for our purposes and for the purposes audience and that is why this the
you know to study representation is immensely important. Then again let us look at what barker says
here, thus the investigation of culture has often been regarded as virtually interchangeable
with the exploration of what he calls here the processes of representation, look at this
sentence again. The investigation of culture ultimately means the investigation of the
processes of representation, such as the importance of representation in cultural studies.
Further, while culture is not just a matter of representations, but also of practices
and spatial arrangements. On this word spatial you know is to do with space distinguish it
forms the word special, s p e the word also of practices and special arrangements, it
can nevertheless be argued that it is the process of representation that makes practices
meaningful and significant to us. Now, barker saying here is that, well I agree,
we agree that culture is not just it is not just representations or representation effects,
we agree that culture is also a matter of different cultural practices and different
arrangements in both in space, actually both in space and time. But, he says that, we can
very well argue that the process of representation, the process of symbolization is that which
makes practices meaningful and significant to us, these last two words I think are very
important, meaningful and significant. How do we acquire, how do we take out meaning
from those very practices and special arrangements that he is talking about here? It is only
through the process of representation, the significance of things, the meaning of things,
the value of things is available to us not by the object per say, but as it mediated
through a process of representation. So, representation is intrinsically bound
up with questions of power through the process of selection and organization, so obviously
if we have to represent something, you cannot talk about everything about that object or
that cultural event or that phenomenon; even it be the scientific phenomenon, we would
have to be selective and you would have to organize it in a certain way. Now, the own
process of selection and organization is seminal to the representation process. Since as we
have already said, we cannot talk about everything regarding a certain object or phenomenon.
And secondly, we have to organize it in such a way that it seems intelligible to people;
this is what we talked about just a while ago, making things intelligible, making things
significant, making things meaningful and even making things have value for us. So,
representation is therefore, bound up with questions of power, now power is you know
related to the way we select and organize things.
Now, here it does not mean that, you know you are you every time you select an organized
phenomenon that you are always thinking that its giving me power and it is an act of power
on my part. This word power here is used more in the Foucault instance of power, you know
the ever presence of power in society. So, you when we select and organize, we already
have an ideology that propels us to select most of the time to propels us to select and
organize things in a bit to represent those things.
So, the power of representation lies in its enabling some kinds of knowing or some kinds
of knowledge to exist while excluding other ways of seeing, this is most important. The
moment it is quite obviously, the moment you select something and the moment you leave
out other aspects of it, the moment you organize things in a certain way, you are already engaging
in a process of inclusion and exclusion. Therefore, representation as power is both
inclusive and exclusive, this is important to keep you know for us you know to keep in
mind, why because it is power that is or ideology that is going to sort of determine, what is
included and what is excluded. So, representation is also synonymous in this sense with power
and ideology. So, as I said the next you know critique that
I am going to whose words I am going to use and then I am going to explain them, text
I am using is from his book entitled critical and cultural theory. And it is a very useful
book because it talks about you know all the chapters are devoted to different concepts
and I am basing my lecture you know, this part of this lecture on Dani Cavallaro’s
words. Now, this is what Cavallaro says, today many
important developments in critical and cultural theory are associated with what he calls a
crisis in representation. He says that, it is not only representation, analyzing representation
looking at the various aspects of representation that are that are important in cultural studies.
Today, currently he says, there is a crisis in representation, there is crisis in our
in our understanding in the sense that, there are ways in which as we can use this word
representation has been problematized further. Now, the moment we come away from you know
from the dictionary definition of representation, what we have done is we have already problematized
it, but Cavallaro seems to think here that there is a further problematization in and
he calls this a crisis in the in the humanities as far as representation goes. Now, how does it happen? Now, let us read
from Cavallaro’s text that, the study of representation must take into account a wide
variety of cultural phenomena. We need to understand in the first place, that the study
of representation should take to account the variety of cultural phenomena, philosophical
perspectives and ideology programs. We have human beings operating in desperate cultural
and historical contexts and we are felt the need to represent themselves and their environments.
Why do certain cultures openly admit to the constructed and fictional status of their
representation and others seek to pass them off as natural and real? He says that, there
are cultures which openly, which readily admit you know the fact that, their representations
are fictions, their representations are constructed and they even celebrate the fact that these
all constructions. But, he asks this question why in, but in other cases why are you know
these why are there also cultures which seek to pass their representations of as what he
calls natural and real being as close to reality or the you know the real object so to speak
to be to use the word faithful to the original ok.
So, there is we need to also investigate why some cultures celebrates the fictionality
of the representations and why other cultures hang on to them as if they were the faithful
copies of the original. Second question he asks here, why do different
forms of representation sorry what do different forms of representation tell us about the
societies, communities and individuals that produce them? So, representations have different
forms, the way I represent something and the way you represent something, for instance,
the way simple simply put the way man is represented in you know a in cultural studies, in sociology,
in anthropology, in literature, it is different from the way man is represented in biology.
Biology would refer to man as homosapiens, but in other literature, for instance we would
look at in most cases, the inner life of man, his passions, his feelings, his moral dilemmas
etcetera. So, he asks what do different forms of representation
tell us about the societies, the communities and individuals that produce them. This is
something that is needed to be investigated, who are representations addressed to or aimed
at? This is the third important question, what was the first question. why is there
you know why is it Why is it a fact that some cultures openly say, openly celebrate the
fictionality, the constructedness of the representations, where others take great pains of you know
go to go to great lengths to assert that their representations are close you know to the
to the original. Second question was this different forms of
representation belonging to different societies, communities or even knowledge domains, those
are I can said the literature on the one literature on the one hand and the other hand as I said
biology in you know representing what man is. So, why do this different domain, different
cultures of different forms of representation? Point number three is question he asks is,
who are who are representations addressed to and aimed at, we need to look at these
very carefully; this is what he calls there is a crisis in representation in the sense
that, we need to need to know further the problematization of the word representation. Then look at this is what he says and I am
quoting from Dani Cavallaro a representation only represents by virtue of being interpreted
and ultimately represents anything it is capable of representing. That is it has an indefinite
number of potential, as he says potential representational contents; here representation
is tied to this word interpretation, representation only represents by virtue of being interpreted
and we have to keep in mind that there are myriad ways of interpretations.
And the way things are interpreted is tied to the way a thing is represented and then
he says, we have to admit the fact that there is you know there is an indefinite number
of potential representational contents. Even as we look, study, analyze and eventually
accept or consume one representation, it is important to keep in mind that, there are
immense. There is an immense number of or as he says,
an indefinite number of potential representational contents for every so to speak official representation
of something, there are other potential representational contents that in terms of cultural studies
because of ideology, because of power do not see the light of day. Second, he says the
concept of representation is also intimately connected to that of repetition.
On the first case, we had interpretation and the second case we have repetition, how is
repetition important for representation? When a representation is repeated over and over
in a cultural setup, it in sort of instantiates itself as the dominant representation, just
a while ago we spoke of several potential, they have potential representational contents
of which only one or two make it as a dominant representation or representation effect and
these dominant representations or representational effects, they establish themselves in the
cultural order through a process of repetition because if it is not repeated then, it does
not enter the cultural realm in you know in a in a in a established sort of way.
Then he says, it could be argued that words, for example, are representations which only
acquire meaning to the extent that they may be repeated – namely used again in different
contexts. Now, we have you know if you remember, we had this lecture discussion on structuralism
and where in we said the language or words or a matter of convention, right words have
to be used and we have to you know we have to submit to the convention called the language
system and that is how you know words which are which are essentially arbitrary in nature
begin to have what we call social currency or communication currency. We look at this
again, it could be argued that words for example, are representations which only acquire meaning
to the extent that they need may be repeated namely used again in different contexts; imagine
if you coined a word today, which is very possible we have neologisms or new words been
added to the dictionaries all the time. Now, if such a word was coined by you and
it was used only once or only twice may be by you and not by anyone else what happens
is, the word this neologism or this new word dies down, it dies away because it has not
gone through or not been through this important process called repetition and particularly
where different people use it in different contexts. So, like words, words which are
ultimately representations or ultimately symbol, what is a word tree? For instance, the word
tree is a representation or a symbol for the you know for the for the object tree. Now,
there is nothing treeish, this is what you will recall, we had discussed in our lecture
on structuralism, and there is nothing treeish in a tree.
There is nothing treeish in the tree, so that it calls out to say that look I am ontologically
or essentially a tree, how is this proven? This is proven by the fact that there are
different words in different linguistic systems, different cultures you know to represent the
object tree. So, the point Cavallaro is making here I feel is that, words are also representations
and you can also say you know the reverse or the inverse that, representations may,
cultural representations may also be seen as words and languages. Then, we come to the philosophical aspect
of what Cavallaro is saying and I am quoting again from his text, the world cannot be represented
accurately and objectively for the reason that it is not a given, but rather an effect
of how it is perceived from various viewpoints. Now, you will recall in one of my lectures
I discussed, you know talked about epistemology or the theory of knowledge. And also you know
the suggestion given by several philosophers that, there is a reality and we represent
the reality to us, to ourselves, to our filament using the cognitive structures, using the
you know the hardware. So, to speak and software of our of our brains,
the brain and the mind and we represent them according to the way, we are sort of allowed
to see reality through our cognitive apparatus. So, this sentence by Cavallaro takes on a
philosophical dimension as I have said, the world cannot be represented accurately and
objectively, there is nothing called objectivity; the world even if it is represented through
signs has a certain amount of subjectivity in it, for the reason that it is not a given,
the world for us is never a given, but the world is a representational effect. Reality
is a representational effect, look at the profundity of what is being suggested here,
that we cannot have access to reality as it is at least not wholly. Yes, science thus
give us you know a picture, sort of a true picture in the sense of science works and
you can replicate experiments, you can you can reestablish the you know certain scientific
facts, but in a philosophical sense, then reality is an effect of how it is perceived
from various view points. Secondly much as he says, much recent criticism
has claimed that the real as such is unattainable. We only experience it through the mediation
of texts, images and stories. Now, look at the look at look at this is very important
point, the real is unattainable, this is an acceptance of the fact that, we cannot attain
a whole you know a holistic so to speak knowledge about reality and that the mediation here
is done through things like texts, images and stories and after all, what is a text,
what is an image and what is a story. You are right, the answer is representation,
even scientific texts may be call from a humanities or a perspective from a philosophical perspective,
a representational texts. So, reality comes through us, again we find the importance of
the term representation, mediated reality is available to us through a mediation of
certain representational effects which come to us in representational forms. What are
these representational forms? These representational forms are what we find here in Cavallaro’s
words, these are the texts, the images and stories that we construct; remember texts,
images and stories are maps of meaning and according to Stuart hall, they are not just
maps of meaning, they are constitutive of that meaning.
So, it seems the texts, images and stories are all that we can ever have in the sense,
meditative reality through representation is all that we can have, the picture is not
so pessimistic as it may seem. The point is you know to a large extent, these representations
work particularly in science, where we have to be very careful is in terms of the social
and political and cultural realm, where texts, images and stories and remember Roland Barthes
talking about ideology myths. These sometimes are circulated in such a way
that, they seem to be quote unquote natural for us, they seem to be givens for us, this
where we have to be very careful and I think Cavallaro rightly terms this as a crisis in
representation. The crisis per you know particularly is a you know a philosophical one, when we
realize that we cannot have an unmediated access to reality and the reality is available
to us only as representational effects. Then he says, what were these stories, this
texts, that we have been talking about, now I am quoting him again, these stories and
texts these never mirror reality, you know we have already we have long left behind the
that mimetic you know school of. These never mirror reality transparently and neutrally,
but actually represented according to the codes and are accordingly naturalized, that
is their status as constructs is effaced. Important thing to note here is that, you
may think that these mirror reality, but actually it is you know it is according to certain
codes. Codes of what, codes of both you know remember
the two words, selecting and organizing, the two words that we had occasionally talked
about a couple of slides ago. There are codes, there are norms, and there are rules as to
how you may select and how you may organize things ok.
So, reality is represented according those codes there are through which things are naturalized.
So, you know when we accept the thing as real, we are accepting the representation, this
is very important to note. We are in a philosophical sense accepting the representation, we are
learning the codes by which the selection has been done, the organization organizing
has been done, we are learning the codes through which we can unpack and understand such selection
and organization ok. And what happens as a result of these you
know the process of repetition or as the result of you know submitting to this encoding and
decoding, what happens is look at this word here, the status of this representational
forms as constructs is effaced or erased or removed. We forget right, we forget that these
things are simply here is the word that, this things are simply constructs right through
repetition, there is a naturalization and the representation therefore, stands literally
stands for or is the object itself ok. Then representations are a vital means of
supporting a culture’s ideology, now again we come full circle here, back to ideology
right. So, these representations, these texts, these stories, this images as I have just
said, begin to stand for the real thing and are you know real to us and circle this things
that are circulated in a community, in a culture, in a society they support a culture’s ideology.
The world view remember, we talked about ideology as a worldview and I am reading this again
representations are a vital means of supporting a culture’s ideology, the worldview invented
by that culture to legitimate itself and to discipline its subjects, I think this last
two words are immensely important. We know by now that representation is deeply
tied down to ideology, in fact, it is a vehicle of ideology, true circulation and constant
repetition it becomes a carrier or or a a vehicle of ideology. And as we learnt in the
last two lectures, every ideology is a worldview, it is a way of looking at the world, you know
these are lenses through which you view the world. And the world view invented by that
culture, right it is also a vehicle, representations are a vehicle of a particular cultures dominant
ideology. Let us not the world ideology just as it is, because they are ideologies we talking
about the cultures dominant ideology. Now, what happens is when representation becomes
a vehicle of ideology, it tries it you know or rather it tries to or it ends up legitimizing
that very dominant ideology, it ends up legitimizing that very culture to sometimes even show that,
this is the best way things can be selected and organized to legitimate itself and importantly
to discipline is subjects, because if you have to learn the codes of both encoding and
decoding culture, of encoding and decoding culture through representations and representational
effects, you have already disciplined into it. Now, the word disciplining as you know
in this sense, several as you enter a discipline, you know for instance, when you use the signs
you have to talk in a certain way, you too you to use a certain discourse. When you are
in another setup in a religious setup for instance, you are not talking about man as
a biological being all the while, you talking of man in a different way.
So, different you know representations kind of again let us use Althusser’s term interpolate
or hail or beckon call out to you to discipline yourselves. So, in the sense discipline here
also means as in giving into being a sort of a good cultural person in adhering to the
representations of the dominant culture. I think here, Cavallaro has several very important
things to say both in terms of a philosophical understanding of representation and in terms
of a cultural political way of looking at representation effects that legitimize a culture’s
dominant ideology and also discipline its subjects into accepting that ideology. Further he says, thus the central concern
of any critical assessment of representations should consist of denaturalizing now what
is our job therefore, is not just to submit ourselves to discipline ourselves and to add
to the legitimization of culture. He says, the central concern we have to critically
assess these representations and representational effects, the central concern of any critical
assessment of representation therefore, should consist of denaturalizing. These have been
naturalized to what if you recall, these have been naturalized through constant repetition
and circulation in the culture and we should denaturalize these. Denaturalizing what, as
I said look at the slide here please, both the cultural images and the institutionalized
responses to such images that surround us at all times.
We have to sort of lay bare right, we have to decode the codes themselves, we have to
decode the process that goes into the making of the naturalization of such representations
and we should denaturalize what, both the image that as that represents the you know
the phenomenon. And secondly also the institutionalized responses, you know our responses to the to
the images, to the pictures, to the stories that circulate as a dominant representations
are also institutionalized in the sense that, we are we are even indoctrinated into decoding
them, why? Because we have learnt the codes as per as cultural people, so these surround
us at all time and it is culture studies as a discipline, which as a domain of study which
trains us. To be careful about representations which
trains us not to consume the images and stories, which stand as a dominant representations
and which also teach us to be vary of the fact that, we are our responses are learned
responses, our responses are learn through a process of institutionalization, even indoctrination
into the way we should respond. That is the way we respond, the way we look at, the way
we study and finally, the way we accept and imbibe any representational effect has to
be critically analyzed and critically assessed. Next, this entails questioning many of the
concepts and symbols which we are generally invited to take for granted as timeless objective
and a matter of common sense. There should be a process of questioning the
symbols, questioning the concepts and we are invited, look at the word invited, it is like
again Althusser’s term interpolation and we think that or other ideology tells us that,
these representations are for all time to come, they are timeless, they are objective
and they are a matter of common sense. So, all this three words, timelessness, objectivity
and common sense are things that are not accepted as they are in cultural studies. Everything
Nothing is timeless, nothing has a pure absolute objectivity and common sense is not come is
not sensible or does not make sense all the time particularly across cultures; it is only
ideology that calls out to us to accept this as timeless and objective.
Therefore, any cultural product can be approached as a form of representation offering, look
at this, vital clues to a culture’s belief systems. Therefore, if you have to study any
culture, if you have to critically assess a culture including your own, you need to
you know you need to look at any of its cultural products, why because any because cultural
product is after all a representation, be it you know any sort of a text is really a
representation of what exists. Now, if you if you keep in mind that, any
cultural product is really representation, it will tell you a lot about the culture,
where it comes from; particularly, the beliefs, the axioms, the postulates, that the cultures
take for granted as timeless, take for granted as an objective account of reality or as even
as common sense, it gives as an idea of its interpretations of reality and its way the
way in which it is it translates both factual and fictional situations into images.
There is a lot and that remains to be discuss and as I as I mentioned in the beginning of
this lecture, we will take this up in the next lecture on part two of representation.
Let us now quickly look at what we have discussed so far in the form of questions that may be
put to you in the exams. For instance, if you are given a question
like this, delineate the scope of the term representation from a dictionary point of
view, you would say, the representation may mean an act, a state or fact of representing
or being represented, it may be a mental image, it is may be a presentation of you know of
a view of facts or arguments, it could mean a petition and could also mean a body of representatives.
Now, the scope when if you are asked, the scope you know of representation in cultural
studies, you need to also bring in the rest of what we have discussed. For instance, you
would say the representation obviously means, all these things I have talked about, but
in cultural studies, the scope of representation is enlarged to bring in the political, to
bring in you know the term representational effect, to tie two terms like ideology and
power. Now, the next question, describe the concept
of representation as articulated by Chris Barker. And then you would say, you will you
know you would put emphasis on certain words in Barker for instance, Barker says that representations
are sets of processes by which signifying practices stand for, there is a there is an
act of symbolism, there is an act of symbolism here things stand for, things and then in.
Secondly, when he says for cultural studies, representation is not simply reflectionism
that they are constitutive of the very meanings that they stand in for the two words, they
are maps of meanings and they are also constitutive of meanings. Then representation does not
involve a clear correspondence between signs and objects, but this is the term representational,
this is what we have to bring to the notice of the examiner, that there is a representational
effect which stands for and becomes more sort of real than the real object. Secondly thirdly, where does a power of representation
lie? We would say that, the power of representation lies in the fact that, we select and organize
things according to the ideology of the culture in which we live. So, the power of representation
enables you know in a foucaultian sort of way, some kinds of knowledge to exist while
excluding. So, inclusion and exclusion are part of it, and selection and organization
is what gives power to the representation. Then why do we say, after Dani Cavallaro that
there has been a crisis in representation studies? We will say this, that according
to Dani Cavallaro we realize that, as a recent criticism has shown us, that reality as such
is unattainable and this is what brings in from a philosophical point of view, the crisis
in representation that we experience representation only through mediation of representation,
that is mediation or we sorry we understand reality only through the mediation of texts,
images and stories. And that texts, images and stories in themselves are representations
and they are they seem to be more real. At least you can add this point, that it is culture
and the ideology of a particular culture, that naturalizes seeks to naturalize these
things and make us learn the codes through which we are our responses are institutionalized
and we are disciplined so to speak as subjects into being a part of such representational
effects, ok. So, we stop here and there is of course, a
lot more to be said about representation and some of those things, which we would be then
covering in the next lecture, which would be part two of representation, thank you.

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