A Semiotic Analysis of the Representation of Arctic Inuit in the National Geographic

University essay from Malmö universitet/Kultur och samhälle

Abstract: This study examines representations of Inuit people in the photographic images of the National Geographic with the aim of analyzing how they are portrayed in the photographs in which they appear. The theoretical framework consists of theories on representation with a focus on postcolonial theory, otherness and Eskimo Orientalism. The underlying methodological framework is constructivism while the method of semiotic approach as defined by Ronald Barthes is used to analyze the data. The researcher coded photographs of Inuit and examined how meanings are created through ‘the signs’ present in the images, before identifying the denotative and connotative meanings attached to the images. The main coding factors were look, appearance, activities, surroundings and use of technology. Conclusion is that portrayals of Inuit in the National Geographic from 1990 to 2010 have strong presence of stereotypes as well as myth but after that period the presence of stereotypes diminishes.

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