Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Visual Anthropology: Theory and Photographic Applications

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Anthropological Sciences

DESCRIPTION This study-unit is intended to train students in the technical skills of photography, as well as to develop a critical understanding of visual anthropology. In the theoretical phase, the students will be introduced to visual anthropology and the role of pictorial media as a means of communicating anthropological knowledge. The study-unit will also discuss key works in visual anthropology- both in film and in photography. Most importantly the students will learn to observe and compose and to develop an argument through photographs.

The student will learn with a professional photographer how to handle the parameters inherent to any camera, but also how to position oneself with regards to the subject, the importance of framing and finally how to display and crop photographs. A final photographic essay, accompanied by a logbook, will complete the assessment.

Study-unit Aims:

-To familiarise students with the historical use of the visual medium in ethnography.
-To provide students with the opportunity to develop skills in the application photographic technical skills in anthropological fieldwork.
- To assist students in developing a critical understanding of the relationship between the visual medium and anthropological knowledge.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Analyse photographs from an anthropological perspective;
- Understand the limits induced by the multiple meaning of images;
- Critically engage the veracity of photographs;
- Discuss the history and the fundamental texts in ethnographic film and photography;
- Be familiar with the aesthetic and semantic codes of documentary film and photography;
- Display a good understanding of the different theoretical approaches to photography and visual anthropology.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Become familiar with photographic devices and parameters;
- Observe critically social situations;
- Analyse the value of a photograph in an anthropological framework;
- Capture with photographs a social pattern;
- Carefully select and display a series of photographs.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

- Barthes, R. (1980). Camera Lucida. Hill & Wang.
- Behrend, H. and Werner, J. (2001). Photographies and modernities in Africa. Harwood academic.
- Collier, J. and Collier, M. (2009). Visual anthropology: Photography as a research method. Albuquerque, N.M: University of New Mexico Press.
- Grimshaw, A. (2008). The ethnographer's eye. Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press.
- Hockings, P. (2012). Principles of Visual Anthropology. de Gruyter Mouton.
- Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson,1942, "Balinese character, a photographic analysis", (759 photographs), New York, Académie des sciences de New York, Wilbur G. Valentine ed., vol. II.
- Nichols, B. (2001). Introduction to Documentary. Indiana University Press.
- Pinney, C. (2011). Photography and Anthropology. Reaktion Books.
- Pink, S. (2013). Doing Visual Ethnography. SAGE Publications Ltd.
- Susan Sontag, 1977, "On Photography" New york, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux
- Peterson, Bryan (2016) Understanding Exposure. Berkeley: Random House.
- Wright, C. (2008). “A Devil's Engine”: Photography and Spirits in the Western Solomon Islands. Visual Anthropology, 21(4), pp.364-380.
- Wright, C. (2004). Material and Memory: Photography in the Western Solomon Islands. Journal of Material Culture, 9(1), pp.73-85.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Tutorial

Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Presentation (5 Minutes) No 10%
Portfolio No 15%
Essay Yes 75%

LECTURER/S Adrian Camilleri
Elisa Von-Brockdorff

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.