Unstable Mediation – Regarding the United Nations as a Visual Entity

Damaso, Mafaldo. 2017. Unstable Mediation – Regarding the United Nations as a Visual Entity. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This project constitutes the first multifaceted exploration of the modes of visual selfpresentation of the UN, which I see as operating partially independently from the organisation’s communication strategy. I am particularly interested in reflecting on the use of images as rhetorical devices and in contributing to strengthening the overlap between visual culture, rhetoric and UN studies.

The thesis aims to respond to the question ‘What are the central characteristics of the modes of visual presentation of the UN?’ and, secondarily, ‘What do these modes of visual presentation reveal with regard to the spectatorship of the UN?’ To answer the first question, I analyse the UN flag and emblem, the publicness of the meetings of the General Assembly and the Security Council and, finally, the figure of the Goodwill Ambassador. However, my analysis considers not only these individual images but also the visual network that they originate. Of particular concern is the position of this network vis-à-vis the organisation’s internal conflicts and the UN’s aim of public support for its mission, which is in tension with the limited modes of engagement that are available to its viewers.

I address the second question in the final chapter, which brings into play two artistic interventions: Pedro Reyes, The People's United Nations (2013-2014) and Goshka Macuga, Bloomberg Commission: The Nature of the Beast (2009-2010). I regard them as foregrounding possible modes of activated viewership that are vital within a contemporary image world in which the UN’s modes of presentation constitute one of several rhetorical networks to be

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



Visual culture, visual rhetoric, United Nations, mediation, international relations

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


31 August 2017

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

15 Sep 2017 11:25

Last Modified:

31 Dec 2023 02:28



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