Moving inkblots: Interpreting images of immigration

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    ‘That looks to me like two elephants making love to a men’s glee club’, revealed Woody Allen’s character, Virgil Starkwell, in the 1969 mockumentary Take the Money and Run, when presented by a psychoanalyst with a simple, accidental inkblot picture. Inkblot tests have been used to study states of mind at least since the Renaissance, and were made famous in the early twentieth century by the Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach, who used them to analyse everything from cultural difference to schizophrenia. Though widely lampooned, the method relies on a sound premise: when you interpret something you often project our own pathological state of mind upon it. I think about Rorschach inkblots when looking at the cover of Migration Studies. Beyond strongly suggesting human footprints—which are simple, timeless symbols of human movement—these blots on a blank page have no objective meaning. But they have proven an excellent projection screen for colourful reader responses.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)281-288
    JournalMigration Studies
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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