Key Debates in Visual Anthropology

This course offers an overview of debates in visual anthropology and how they have contributed to shaping the overall discipline of anthropology and ethnographic practice. By revisiting these debates, we examine theories and approaches to camera-based research intending to prepare students to develop and critically assess their own ethnographic filmmaking and writing for the successful completion of their MA program (visual track).

Social science research is motivated by ongoing debates between theoretical positions that are based on empirical work. In anthropology, this work most often takes the form of ethnography. Since its early days, ethnographers have incorporated audio-visual methodologies into their knowledge-making practices. This course explores the intersection of anthropology and audio-visual media examining theoretical propositions, methodological approaches and ethical considerations. Students are encouraged to discuss central concerns and intellectual positions within the anthropological discipline and their dialectic relationship with visual cultures and image-making practices. Engaging with these debates will allow us to explore the paradigms, regimes and modes of knowledge production that shape contemporary understandings of visual ethnography and its “fields”.

Themes include:

  • Writing/Visualizing Culture
  • Decolonizing (Visual) Anthropology
  • Multimodality
  • Sensory Ethnography
  • Envisioning more-than-human socialities