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The politics of the face: manifestations of Che Guevara's image and its collage of renderings and agency Open Access


Other title
Che Guevara
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Cambre, Maria-Carolina
Supervisor and department
Kelly, Jennifer (Educational Policy Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Mclaren, Peter (Education)
Cooley, Miriam (Elementary Education)
Zivkovic, Marko (Anthropology)
Weber-Pillwax, Cora (Educational Policy Studies)
Shields, Rob (Sociology)
Department of Educational Policy Studies

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Che Guevara’s image, is seen as a global icon crossing all kinds of social and cultural boundaries, as exemplified in street protests and evidenced by multiple visual messages such as posters, logos, t‐shirts and slogans. We are invited, demanded, expected to recount and memorialize. But what exactly are we being asked to remember? This study aims to create an analytical space for understanding this phenomenon as far as it can be observed through its analysis and to provide a starting point for a better perspective of the significance of visual events in public as well as their cultural resonance. I was initially interested in this image of Guevara and how it worked because I perceived a performative capability to gather people and sanction action that was inherently productive and powerful at a grassroots level. I was curious about vernacular (non-institutional) visual communication. Although I acknowledge mass-produced versions of the matrix (source) image, my primary interest is in those renderings acquiring some singularity either through their production or location or in how they have been appropriated and adapted. This project is a series of encounters with the image and a look at the levels at which it operates and how it moves fluidly between them. I do not wish to locate this image or designate its “address.” Instead, I prefer to examine how it is a locating how it is a verb as well as a noun. This project contributes to understandings of how images are working in the world and consequently to how people can produce and direct the visual space rather than be relegated to receiving and, more or less passively, consuming images. I hasten to add that though the consumption of images is never passive, the built‐in impetus of advertising images encourages passive consumption. The implications of seeing the vernacular image as something that does not fit in established mass media methods of study gestures towards its being a somewhat different phenomenon and it’s worth a closer look at the action or performance of the image itself, what it allows people to do and how this happens.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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