The Making of Them and Us (MaTUs)

The Joint Faculties of Humanities and Theology | Lund University

Invitation to a symposium in association with the project “The Making of Them and Us (MaTUS – Cultural Encounters Conveyed Through Pictorial Narrative”.

The symposium “The Making of Them and Us” is organized on December 7 and 8, 2016 by the project with the same name. The MaTUs project studies the encounter between different cultures, as conveyed also in pictures. It is based on Lund school cultural semiotics, and it applies narratology to pictorial structures. A number of case studies are concentrated, on one hand, on the discovery of the new continent named America, and on the other hand, on the contemporary period of great displacements of populations. For the occasion of the present symposium, we have added a third time span, represented here by most of our invited lecturers: the encounter with prehistory.

Human encounters are a central issue of the human science. Our knowledge of other cultures expanded considerably in the 16th century, being as much conveyed by pictorial narratives as by verbal ones. This is still true today when the meeting of cultures has become an affair of each and every moment. Yet there has been very little systematic research so far into such pictorially transmitted cultural encounters.

In this project such perspectives will be problematized in terms of cultural semiotics, which means that the notion of "other" or "foreign" in cultural encounters will be studied with regard to an "Ego-culture" that often itself starts out making a distinction within the field of foreign elements between an "Alter-culture" of high value and/or good communicational standing, and an "Alius culture" with less (or no) value and/or outside the range of what can be mutually communicated.

The first strand puts the emphasis on the confrontation with others worlds initiated in the 16th century by the discovery of the "new" continent of the Americas, the detailed exploration of other parts of the world, as well as the documentation of Europeans lands. We will treat this historical period as a prelude to the European Enlightenment, which is a unique historical phase, which could be seen as the result the final account taken of the “discovery” of other worlds.

The second strand highlights the latest century with its complex and contested image-production tied to cultural identity, covering for instance the ideals of Americanization, National Socialist conceptions of cultural-racial identities, and the ceremonial communication of the suicide bomber photograph.

The third strand, represented here by most of our invited lecturers, concerns the confrontation with our prehistory, and how it has been conceived in the contemporary world. In a way, then it involves meeting ourselves, rather than the other, once again, but in a foreign disguise.

The lectures are given by the members of the MaTUs project (as given below), as well as by the following invited lecturers:

Isabel Klock-Fontanille (Centre de Recherches Sémiotiques, Limoges, France)

Antonis Iliopoulos (Aristotle University, Thessaloniki, Greece)

Itamar Even-Zohar (Tel Aviv Unit of Culture Research, Tel Aviv, Israel)


Jamin Pelkey (Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada)

Jennie Mazur (Department of modern languages, Uppsala University)

Paul Cobley (Middlesex University, London, Great Britain) 

David Machin (Örebro University)


– and by the following project members:



Centre for Cognitive Semiotics,

Lund University