Key Debates in Visual Anthropology

Social science research is motivated by ongoing debates between theoretical positions 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 to illustrate their findings and reach broader audiences. In this sense, filmmaking and other audio-visual interventions have long been understood to merely represent anthropological findings. However, plenty of scholarly works suggest that research interventions that engage with other modalities (like photography, film or sound-recording, a.o.) can, in fact, lead to different interpretative frameworks and, as such, generate theoretical knowledge. This course will 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, modes and regimes of knowledge production that shape contemporary understandings of visual ethnography and its “fields”.