More than Meets the Eye

Hi there! Today we’ll be talking about representation.

First off, cultural theorist Stuart Hall describes representation as the process by which meaning is produced and exchanged between members of a culture through the use of language, signs and images which stand for or represent things (Hall, 1997).

stuarthallRepresentation is basically the way in which signs are used to create  meaning. It is the production of meaning through language. Representation is an abstract concept that means to stand in for, to stand up for a group of people or to re-present, which means to construct. Remember in my last post about communication? Remember how every post leading up to that one were all intertwined in some way or the other?

Well, communication and representations are also linked. We produce representations through our communication and interactions with the world.

representation-processRepresentations are filled with meanings and these meanings define our own identities and cultures. Moreover, because of this, representations become more and more diverse because of globalization itself. As this happens, cultures and identities are evolutionary. Have you ever thought about how language constructs meanings? Meanings are shared through our common access to language.

Constructionists of representation believe that people use signs arranged into languages of different kinds as a way of communicating meaningfully with others. Hall argues that the process of representation forms the world it aims to represent. It also examines how to shared language of a culture, its signs and images, provides direction that gives meaning to the world, as opposed to simply reflecting it. Hall is concerned with how the acts of media representation emulate forms of symbolic power.

Barbados in Context 

Take a look at the image below… what do you see?

The National Flag of Barbados

This is the flag of my island Barbados and this flag is a representation of Barbados, which means to stand in for.Now that you have taken a good look at this flag we’re going to analyze it. What do you see? We know that it is a picture of a flag with three distinct colours: blue, yellow and black. The colours are divided into three equal vertical panels. We also see a trident in the middle of the flag. All of the points that I have listed above are what we see on the surface but the meaning of this flag goes way beyond the image presented before your eyes. You see, the Barbadian flag is an emblem that represents our history. Not the history of the Caribbean itself but the history of Barbados. Barbados became an independent country on November 30th 1966, because of The Father of Independence himself. The Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow was his name. November 30th, 1966 was a day of many firsts for this island. Errol Walton Barrow became our first prime minister, for the first time the Flag of Barbados was raised and our national anthem was played. So what does our flag really represent? I’m happy to enlighten you!

Blue: The colour blue in our flag is a huge part of our tourism industry. It represents our bright blue skies and breathtaking sea that surrounds our island.

Yellow: The yellow is also another crucial part of our tourism industry. It represents the golden sand on our beaches all across the island, that compliment the beautiful waters.

Trident: In classical mythology the trident is the weapon of Poseidon, or Neptune, the god of the sea. However, the trident in our flag is broken. The broken trident is symbolic of that day Barbados gained independence. That day she broke free from England’s reign 50 years ago.

imgSo you see, representations are filled with meaning and now you know the true meaning behind the national flag of Barbados. However, it is important to note that sometimes representations are accurate and other times they aren’t. Now that this little history lesson is over I sure hope you enjoyed this post and learned something new today!

That’s all for now folks. Tune in next time to my post about Language!



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