Contested Images: Iconographical Approaches to the MENA-region


  • Georg Leube Islamic Studies, Universität Bayreuth
  • Perrine Lachenal Philipps-Universität Marburg



Iconography, Art History, Poststructuralism, Visual Culture


This special issue of META: Middle East, Topics and Arguments, engages with the methodology of iconography, an area that was originally developed in the study traditions, iconography is used to reconstruct the meaning of depictions, buildings and other material artifacts, and it does so by integrating the elements of a given representation into its broader historical and cultural context. Ideally, iconography thereby becomes a means of reconstructing both the original aims of the producer of a message, and the ways in which that message was received by its original audience.

In this volume of META, we argue that this approach can and should be adapted to fields transcending the frame of art history and material culture in order to allow greater field of Social and Cultural Studies as a whole. We see iconography, or the synchronistic study of the combination of discrete elements in spatially and temporally bounded areas, as a powerful tool in reconstructing the relationship between the sender and the receiver of a message by focusing on the semiotic context, or Language of Forms (Formensprache), in which communication takes place. By focusing especially on the permeability between different repertoires, the performativity inherent in any act of social communication and the technology underlying the mobilization of semantically charged elements, we aim to explore some of the most promising dimensions in which we believe iconographical approaches can be fruitfully employed in Social and Cultural Studies.


Georg Leube, Islamic Studies, Universität Bayreuth

serves as Assistent (Adjunct Lecturer) at the Chair of Islamic Studies, Bayreuth University, Germany, working on the iconography of authority in 15th century Eastern Anatolia / Western Iran under the so-called Turkmen Dynasties of the Aq- and Qaraquyunlu. As a Post-Doc researcher, he was employed from 2015 to 2016 in the ANR-DFG funded project DYNTRAN, Dynamics of Transmission, at Marburg University, Germany. He received his PhD on Early Islamic History and Historiography at Bayreuth University, in 2014, and his Magister Artium at Freiburg University in 2011 with the commented edition and translation of an Arabic Alchemistic manuscript. He has taught a wide variety of courses on the history and society of the premodern and modern Islamic World and is especially interested in the interplay between material and narrative culture.


Perrine Lachenal, Philipps-Universität Marburg

currently works as a Post-Doc researcher as part of the ‘Re-Configurations’ research network at the CNMS (Center for Near and Middle-Eastern Studies) at the Philipps-Universität of Marburg, Germany. Her research addresses revolutionary iconographies in Tunisia and Egypt, including gender and social class perspectives. It focuses on emerging memorial places, taken as platforms upon which larger political debate are played out, and deals with the democratization of the production of martyrs images and popular representations of martyrdom. Perrine Lachenal obtained her PhD in Social Anthropology in 2015 from Aix-Marseille University, France. Her thesis is an ethnographic study conducted between 2011 and 2012 in Cairo on selfdefense classes for women that have emerged in recent years in Egypt.






Leube, G., und P. Lachenal. „Contested Images: Iconographical Approaches to the MENA-Region“. Middle East - Topics & Arguments, Bd. 8, Mai 2017, S. 5-11, doi:10.17192/meta.2017.8.6964.