Taking Offense

Religion, Art, and Visual Culture in Plural Configurations


What makes an image offensive? — This question is addressed in this volume. It explores tensions and debates about offensive images and performative practices in various settings in and beyond Europe.
Its basic premise is that a deeper understanding of what is at stake in these tensions and debates calls for a multidisciplinary conversation. The authors focus on images that appear to trigger strongly negative reactions; images that are perceived as insulting or offensive; those subject to taboos and restrictions; or those that are condemned as blasphemous. In light of recurrent acts of violence leveled against images and symbols in the contemporary, globally entangled world, addressing instances of “icono-clash” (Bruno Latour) from a new post-secular, global perspective has become a matter of urgency.
What makes a picture offensive to some people and not to others? In diverse, pluralistic societies around the world, images are triggering heated controversy as never before. Their study offers a perfect entry point into the clashes between different values, ideas, and sensibilities. How is the relation between regimes of visibility in art, journalism, politics, and religion negotiated in plural settings? Situated at the interface of art history, anthropology and religious studies, this volume unravels the dynamics of taking offense in current politics and aesthetics of cultural representation in Europe and beyond.
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Christiane Kruse is Professor for Art History and Visual Culture at the Muthesius Kunsthochschule Kiel.
Birgit Meyer is Professor for Religious Studies at the University of Utrecht.
Anne-Marie Korte is Professor for Religion and Gender at the University of Utrecht.
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