9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN02 Sociology of the Arts

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 Arts and Politics Building II, C6.08

Arts and Politics: how illustrated postcards were used for propaganda purposes in European societies

There is a generally held belief that postcards are a kind of marginal media. However, for many decades they were one of the most frequent means of communication and way of sharing images. «The postcard», explains Tom Phillips, «was the phone call of the early part of the century, the mode of making arrangements, placing orders or just keeping in touch». Their interest is, nevertheless, not closed only in the interpersonal sphere. The truth is that, as many other visual arts, postcards were also taken over by ideological movements and governments. Given that the golden age of postcards coincides with many dictatorial regimes and changes in forms of governing in many European countries, illustrated cards are also a key source of understanding how image was used for propaganda purposes.
In fact, it could also be said that postcards provide one of the most important visual inventories since the end of the 19th century. Many categories of pictures may be identified when looking at them, as there is a wide range of registers on various topics. From cinema, to architecture, crossing fashion, advertising and humour, illustrated postcards had a strong impact in the 20th century European societies. In the political field, it would be inaccurate not to recognise the role these particular instruments of communication played in terms of ideological propaganda. That's why it would be quite wrong to ignore them when aiming to understand how propaganda services used visual arts to diffuse political ideals.
Taking into consideration especially European dictatorships (namely the Portuguese and the Spanish regimes of the middle 20th century), this paper intends to analyse a sample of postcards concerning these regimes. The main objective is to examine how postcards' pictures were used for political goals. On the other hand, this research intends also to explore how satiric images (that are still a kind of artistic productions) became parallel ways of a kind of discourse against the official stream.