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Visual threats: Lene Hansen’s Michael Hintze lecture to introduce first Q Symposium

By Raelene Loong

12 February, 2014

Photographs from Abu Ghraib and Fallujah, the Muhammad Cartoons, and the video of the dying Iranian activist Neda are just a few examples of images playing decisive roles in security and foreign policy debates.

On 20 February, Denmark’s first female Professor of International Relations Lene Hansen will present ‘In Defense of the Visual Interest: Diplomatic Responses to Image Crises’, the seventh annual Michael Hintze Lecture, in which she will explore the ascendancy of images over words in global politics, challenging traditional forms of diplomacy and warfare.

“International crises can be triggered by globalised images', says Hansen, ‘yet the field of international security has been slow to keep up with their instant circulation, emotional impact and global reach.  States must now deal with a wide range of contending ‘visual interests’ as well as ‘national interests’’.

Michael Hintze Chair of International Security and Centre for International Security Studies (CISS) Director James Der Derian will introduce Hansen's lecture, which he says intersects with the CISS strategy to get ahead of the curve in analyzing image-based crises.

‘In an era when networked global media can escalate a local incident into a global crisis within a single news cycle, policy-oriented institutions like CISS need to get up to speed to help close the response lag to emergent security issues,’ says Professor Der Derian.

The Michael Hintze Lecture was established alongside the Michael Hintze Chair in 2008 following a generous donation from a distinguished University of Sydney graduate.  The lecture will also open ‘Q Symposium: Peace and Security in a Quantum Age’, the first annual conference of the CISS, to be held at the Q Station in Manly from 20-22 February 2014.

The Q Symposium will gather leading peace and security scholars and experts to explore volatile and complex global issues, such as quantum computing and leaks in a new media scape, refugee flows, geo-security, food scarcity, and biological weapons. Participants will include Royal Australian Navy Chief, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, and BBC World News Presenter Nik Gowing, as well as the University of Sydney’s Dr Bates Gill from the US Studies Centre, Professor of Politics John Keane and Professor Alison Bashford to name a few. A full list of participants can befound here.

The Michael Hintze Lecture is free and open to all with registration requested. The Q Symposium is by invitation only.

Event details

What: ‘In Defense of the Visual Interest: Diplomatic Responses to Image Crises’, The Michael Hintze Lecture, presented by Professor Lene Hansen

When: 4pm Thursday 20 February 2014

Where: The Main Lecture Theatre, The Quadrangle, The University of Sydney, Camperdown campus


Media enquires: Kate Mayor, 02 9351 2208 or 0434 561 056, and Lucy Sunman, 0409 773 475,

Contact:Raelene Loong
Phone: 61 2 9351 7663 (Mon & Tues)

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