Semester Two 2011
This course is about visual representations of culture and cultural difference. It looks at a wide variety of visual media, including art, photography, film, video, and digital technologies, to explore the ways in which these shape both the perception, and the experience, of cultural difference.
The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own – Susan Sontag (The New York Review of Books, 1974)
Film is the only method I have to show another just how I see him – Jean Rouch (The Camera and The Man, 1975)
You illuminate him and he illuminates you. The light you receive from him is added to the light he receives from you – Robert Bresson (Notes on Cinematography, 1977)
This course is about visual representations of culture and cultural difference. It looks at a wide variety of visual media, including art, photography, film, video, and digital technologies, to explore the ways in which these shape both the perception, and the experience, of cultural difference. Throughout the course, an emphasis is placed on the inherent power of images: their ability to shape our own cultural experiences, to cast cultural ‘others’ in particular ways, and to act as a mode of resisting other people’s stereotypes. In pursuit of these ideas, a particular focus in placed on so-called ethnographic ‘contact zones’, those domains in which different cultural groups most frequently come into contact with each other. It is in these zones – which include such diverse settings as colonial frontiers, international film festivals and tourist encounters – that groups most frequently engage in constructing visual images of both themselves, and cultural others.
By the end of the course, students will have developed the skills to critically assess:
• How still and moving images shape our perceptions of both our own, and other, cultures.
• The ways in which the technologies for producing and reproducing visual images are themselves culturally specific.
• How and why visual spectacles shape the relationship between viewing subjects and visualized objects.
• What exactly it means to speak of the ‘innocent eye’ and the ‘ethnographic eye’ (and other ‘ways of seeing’ as well).
• The images of other cultures which can be derived from the history of colonial photography and ethnographic film.
• How different ways of seeing, and constructs of culture, are implicated in the production and reception of genres such as national cinemas, indigenous forms of documentary film, and community-based television projects.
15 points of ANTH at 100 level. Students with at least a B average in 30 points of appropriate courses may be admitted with the approval of the Anthropology Programme Director
Throughout the course, visual materials are drawn from a wide variety of ethnographic contexts. Particular focus will be placed on the following:
• Colonial photography from Australia and the Pacific (including New Zealand)
• Documentary film from East Africa (Kenya, Sudan, Rwanda and Uganda)
• West African Cinema
• Global news reporting from the Middle East (Qatar, Dubai and Iraq)
• Digital and internet representations of ‘indigenous peoples’ and their arts
Want to Know More?
For those interested in learning more about visual anthropology ahead of the course, you may wish to have a look at some of the following books:
Banks and Morphy (eds) – Rethinking Visual Anthropology (Yale University Press, 1997)
Elizabeth Edwards – Raw Histories: Photographs, Anthropology and Museums (Berg, 2001)
Christine Hine (ed) – Virtual Methods: Issues in Social Research on the Internet (Berg, 2005)
Rothenbuhler and Coman (eds) – Media Anthropology (Sage, 2005)
David MacDougall – Transcultural Cinema (Princeton University Press, 1998)
Alternatively, you could have a look at some of the following websites on Visual Anthropology:
The Society for Visual Anthropology
Visual Anthropology Net
UR-List Web Resources for Visual Anthropology
The course is complemented by a weekly film screening (as part of the tutorial sessions). The films being shown will include the following:
- Nanook of the North (Innuit of the Canadian Arctic)
- Forest of Bliss (Religious Practice in India)
- Les Maitres Fous [The Mad Masters] (Spirit Possession in West Africa)
- Gaza Strip (Palestine)
- In and Out of Africa (International Art Markets)
- Atanarjuat: The fast runner (Innuit Indigenous Media)
Book, photography or film review
(photographic essay or film and notes)
The assessments for this course – at both the 207 and 307 levels – are designed to form an integrated whole, rather than a series of ‘stand alone’ assignments:
For 207, students begin by selecting a book, photographic collection, or ethnographic film for review. This book, collection, or film will then be used as one of the example in the course essay. The arguments developed in the essay will then be expanded upon in a small visual project.
Book, photography or film review 10%
Essay proposal 5%
Visual project (photographic essay or film and notes) 40%
Tutorial Participation 15%
As can be seen, it is anticipated that all students will produce some sort of visual project – either a photographic assignment or a short documentary film – as part of the course assessment criteria. For this purpose, it is essential that all students taking the course have access to some sort of still camera (although don’t be put off by this – even a $3.99 disposable camera will be more than adequate for this purpose). In addition, a limited number of Mini-DV camcorders will be available for course students. In addition, for those making films, a limited amount of training will be provided in online video editing (using Apple’s iMovie software). However, because resources are limited, it is hoped that even those students doing film projects might also be able to use their own equipment on their projects.
Essay boxes are located on the ground floor of the Geography - Psychology building (car park entrance)
Referencing for Anthropology
Using EndNote for referencing
Writing guides for Anthropology
For further information see
School of Social and Political Sciences.
All ANTH207 Occurrences
Semester Two 2011