|Imaging the 'Same' and 'Other': Visual Anthropology/ Documentary Film|
|Written by Tomaselli, Keyan|
VISUAL ANTHROPOLOGY / DOCUMENTARY FILMProf. KG Tomaselli and contributors
The course aims to provide advanced investigations of visual representations of the social through anthropological and documentary film. The theory deals with moving images like film, television and video made in the context of ethnographic research; and the analyses of anthropological, ethnographic and documentary film. It also involves theories of African Philosophy, cultural tourism and development. In response to a broader paradigm-shift toward reflexivity in critical anthropology and media studies, this module addresses and relocates questions of representation and re-construction in the context of reflexive explanations of films about people (documentary, ethnographic, anthropological) – images used to document patterns of culture, usually within discourses of ‘othering’. The epistemological foundations of media and media studies are critically examined, in this specific instance ethnographic film and the construction of the ‘Other’.
The module offers a critical overview of concepts of visual anthropology, ethnographic film-making and visual representation. It examines questions of power and power relations, the anthropological and media construction of the ‘Other’; trends in visual anthropology and their relationship to documentary, ethics, recording strategies and approaches to visual documentation.
The module draws on what can be seen as human experience of the last explicitly colonial environment, that of apartheid South Africa, in order to raise topical criticisms of ethnographic and documentary film in terms of how these genres raise their subjects to the epistemological status of ‘Other’. However, the relevance of this selection to a wider context is connected explicitly throughout.
Semiotics studies how thought, knowledge and behaviour relate to constructions of meaning. This relation is used to examine the way in which meaning is subject to mediation via the technological practices of film, TV and video, photography and computers.
The module is made up of ten seminars:
1) The Other in Film: Rethinking Indigeneity
2) Historical Precedents: Documentary
3) Theories of representation in Cinema
4) Visual Anthropology: Pluralist Views
5) The Ethnographic Presence and Reflexivity
6) Ethnographic Surrealism and the Scientifically Unthinkable
7) Auto-ethnography, Participatory Research and Ethnographic Fieldwork Techniques
8) Nature of Encounters, Ethics and Power
9) Cultural tourism and lodge-community partnerships
10) Structured Absences: A Case Study of the Kalahari !Kung
This module is embedded in an international research and video project entitled “Rethinking Indigeneity” (research partners include anthropologists, film makers and literary scholars from Leeds, Leiden, Free University of Amsterdam, Towson and Queensland).