The Visual Cultures of Southeastern Europe: Elements of Decentred Theory Construction


  • Karl Kaser Karl-Franzens Universität Graz


visual cultures, visual modernity, Ottoman Empire, religions of the book, secularization


The so-called pictorial turn in human and social sciences is embedded in a rapidly changing societal environment that can be suggested incompletely by terms such as ‘mediatization,’ ‘visualization,’ and ‘globalization.’ The ‘new media’ have changed our lifeworlds within the previous two decades more than was the case in the thousands of years before.

Theory construction in the field of visual cultures, however, is characterized by its Western bias; the history of non-Western visual cultures has been understood as deficit history at best or has simply been ignored. Therefore, a decentred theory construction, in the sense of one not based on Western visual cultures, seems to be more essential than ever. My contribution intends to address several vertices which may contribute to a historical construction relevant to present-day theory. In this regard we are still only at the beginning of the beginning. To launch my ambition as a theory constructionist, I would like to advance seven theses for discussion.