The Visualizing Culture controversy demonstrated the ongoing struggle in East Asia over the meaning of the twentieth-century conflicts between Japan and neighboring countries. Critics demanded that the images of Japanese and Qing soldiers required narrative context, but narratives differ substantially in Japan as opposed to its former colonies. The controversy also points to the explosion in publications and on the Web of visual imagery from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The ability to publish photographs at low cost means that those who do so should recognize that the image is not neutral; images have a malleable rhetorical force that defies reduction to a stable meaning.
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Issue Section:Visual Cultures