How is affect produced and how does it create meaning within the aesthetic experience? In what manner are aesthetic and affective strategies, tactics and techniques used in order to legitimate or counter-legitimate the hegemonic discourses that claim the protection of society? In this doctoral thesis, the role of the visual in relation to affect and the cognitive in meaning-making processes is considered through four separate articles. In particular, four cases which in one way or another are related to security, defined here as a series of praxes that officially aim to preserve and protect society.


The first article analyses the Swedish legal system, specifically how audio-visual images are used as evidence and how they participate in the legitimisation of punishment. The second article analyses the state military use of YouTube and mobile games in terms of self-presentation tactics to attract military recruits, which, as the author suggests, circulates within a narrative of adventure and identity beyond the official discourse of democracy and threat.


In a third article, the author discusses how affect runs through the political aesthetics of social movements and is cultivated as a counter-hegemonic strategy. Here, the Anonymous movement in particular is studied, which, through image practices, works to engage and mobilise collective resistance to the politics of mass surveillance and control. The final article examines the Spanish political movement, Podemos, in relation to how the group makes use of symbolic and affective strategies in order to contest political hegemony and the wave of cuts to the fabric of social safety nets implemented by, in a broader security framework, the politics of austerity which are said to lead to macro-economic stability.


Important in the author’s argument is that one cannot analyse individual visual events without simultaneously looking at the social, political and economic context in which these events and practices take place. He also shows that an in-depth understanding of the way in which visual perceptions and affective sensations interact in the mediation of the social imaginary is crucial. Especially, it seems, when we move within contemporary representations and promised realities of the (in)secure.

The Mediation of Affect: Security, Fear and Hope is a PhD thesis by Rodrigo Ferrada Stoehrel.

External examiner: Kari Andén-Papadopoulos. Professor. Department of Media Studies (IMS) at Stockholm university. Stockholm, Sweden.

PhD Dissertation Title

The Mediation of Affect: Security, Fear and Hope in Visual Culture.


978-91-7601-595-7/1104-067X (Department of Culture and Media Studies, Umeå Univesity 2016).


Rodrigo Ferrada Stoehrel.

Launch Site