The iconic potential of photographic images involving migrants and refugees

Cassandra Wee Ju Lin, Pauline Vallée & Peter Grambye

Studenteropgave: Semesterprojekt


The iconicity of a photographic image can be considered as iconic in two senses : iconic as composed as iconic (that is to say representative) signs of referents ; and iconic as representative itself of a context, an event, a historical period. Presenting frameworks for determining the iconicity of photographic images, we elaborate on the manner in which one photo may have a stronger sense of staying power, even having an iconic status. In doing so, we explore the mechanisms behind the process of interpretation. The “boy in the suitcase” and the “Aylan” photos are both photographic representations from the migrant and refugee crisis of 2015, but are interpreted differently. As both Peirce, Barthes etc., states, meaning is somewhat constructed through deciphering the semiotics resources of a referent and their relation. However, as semioticians like Peirce focus solely on the interpretor, as he studies the process behind interpreting signs, other theorists in the same field may argue otherwise.

UddannelserBasis - International Samfundsvidenskabelig Bacheloruddannelse, (Bachelor uddannelse) Basis
Udgivelsesdato21 dec. 2015
VejledereNiklas Alexander Chimirri


  • Photography
  • Migrants
  • Peirce
  • Media
  • Semiotics
  • Barthes
  • Hall
  • Boltanski
  • Iconicity
  • Recent events 2015
  • Encoding/Decoding