Table of Contents

Transparency in a New Global Order

Transparency in a New Global Order

Unveiling Organizational Visions

Edited by Christina Garsten and Monica Lindh de Montoya

This book argues that transparency is a concept that has gained increasing currency and favour as an organizing principle and administrative goal in recent years. Calls for transparency have been directed towards states, markets, corporations and national political processes as well as towards large institutions such as the European Union.

Chapter 1: Truth in 3D: Displaying Historical Evidence at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Bodil Birkebæk Olesen

Subjects: business and management, organisation studies, social policy and sociology, sociology and sociological theory


Bodil Birkebæk Olesen In an essay from 1967 Roland Barthes discussed what he termed the transparency effect, a representational strategy found in conventional historical discourse that sustains an illusionary direct link between past reality and its historiographical representation: ‘that paradox which governs the entire pertinence of historical discourse . . . facts never have any but a linguistic existence . . . yet everything happens as if this linguistic existence were merely a pure and simple “copy” of another existence, situated in an extrastructural field, the “real” ’ (Barthes, 1986, p. 138).1 Echoing Nietzsche, Barthes argued that facts do not exist as such until a meaning, a narrative framework, is introduced to establish the significance of the facts. Therefore, any historical account has an inescapably textual nature. But the anonymous and impersonal style of the historical text diverts attention away from the existence of this narrative framework and creates the illusion that the text simply mirrors the referent, the real. What makes Barthes’s essay even more interesting in relation to this volume is his suggestion that this primacy attached to ‘the real’ in historical discourse reflects a fundamental characteristic of Western civilization, which he claimed: [is] attested to by the development of specific genres such as the realistic novel, the private diary, documentary literature, the news items, the historical museum, the exhibition of ancient objects, and, above all, the massive development of photography, whose sole pertinent feature (in relation to drawing) is precisely to signify that the event represented has...

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