The Imagery of Power Facing the Power of Imagery: Toward a Visual Analysis of Social Movements

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An athletic body holds aloft a hammer in one hand, ready to strike the sword held in the other. A red circle frames this blue icon, surrounded by a biblical quotation in black lettering that reads “Swords into Ploughshares” (see figure 3.1). East Germans wore cloth patches bearing this symbol in the early 1980s as a call for peace between the Eastern and Western blocs.1 The patch was modeled on a statue by the decorated representative of Soviet Realism Yevgeny Vuchetich. The Soviet Union donated the statue to the United Nations in 1959. Warsaw Pact countries used the icon as a positive reference point in their apology for the Soviet world as a stronghold of world peace. However, when the patch was distributed throughout the Protestant Church during protests against the military training of East German students in the early 1980s, the government forbade wearing the symbol in order to prevent its “misuse.” In reaction, peace activists cut out the print and continued to wear the patch with a hole in the center, thereby highlighting the absence of the image.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPalgrave Macmillan Transnational History Series
Number of pages13
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publication date2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012
SeriesPalgrave Macmillan Transnational History Series

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2012, Kathrin Fahlenbrach, Martin Klimke, Joachim Scharloth, and Laura Wong.

    Research areas

  • Collective Identity, Social Movement, Social Movement Research, Visual Analysis, Visual Aspect

ID: 337430248