Inverting cultures: the pictorial ceremonial of a suicide bomber and the“unhomeliness” of the photographic picture

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


On the 14th of January in 2004, Reem Raiyshi killed herself and four Israeli soldiers in a terrorist attack at a border crossing between Israel and Gaza. Soon after the deed, pictures on Reem and her young son were sent to media agencies in Europe - and to circulate on the Internet. Although the picture of Reem is her picture, it is not unique but forms part of a subculture: the ceremonial of the suicide bombers seemed, at that time, to require the pictorial rendering of the perpetrator/victim in his or her declaration of the action before completing the act. Published on Internet, and circulating in mass media, the picture addresses not only the Ego culture of the perpetrator /victim, but also that of the attacked culture. To come into speaking terms with the external culture - or to alter between being "alien" or to be "one of ones own” for teh other – one must submit to a meaning already known by the other culture (Lotman 2009). To insert  “alien” elements, integrated with the meaning taken for granted, can be understood as a strategy in pictorial rhetoric in order to evade norm grounded predictability and invert cultural hierarchies.This case study adds to the complication of when the same picture confirming both to the status of Ego culture and as the “threat” of an intruding other-culture in the dynamics of regulating the perception of “us and them”.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event“Cross-inter-multi-trans”, 13th IASS-AIS World Congress of Semiotics -
Duration: 1980-Jan-01 → …


Conference“Cross-inter-multi-trans”, 13th IASS-AIS World Congress of Semiotics
Period80-01-01 → …

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Humanities and the Arts (6)


  • cultural encounters
  • media
  • norm.
  • photographic picture


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