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On an annual basis, the SVA hosts ethics forums organised by members of the Ethics Committee and presented at the American Anthropological Association meetings. These forums are now an eight-year-old tradition of the Society, aimed at nurturing debate and critical reflection on the ethical dimensions of anthropological imaging. In 2014, for the first time, we are running the session as a media-intensive event, supplemented by webpages and live-streams of the presentations. Details are below, and the topics of debate are clickable via the thumbnails in the adjacent column. Join in the conversation on Twitter via #AAAvisualethics.



Organizers: Sara Perry (University of York) & Jonathan Marion (University of Arkansas)

Saturday, 6 December, 2014, 9.00am-10.45am EST & 14.30pm-16.15pm EST

View the live-streams of the session here: Part I & Part II.

More than ten years ago Gross, Katz and Ruby published Image Ethics in the Digital Age, a pioneering volume whose topical concerns – privacy, authenticity, control, access and exposure, as related to the application of visual media – are arguably just as salient today, if not more so, than in 2003. The ethical dimensions of image use within digital cultures are necessarily fluid and complex, driven by practical needs, institutional frameworks, related regulatory requirements, specific research and intellectual circumstances, not to mention individual and collective moral tenets. The nature of visuality itself has also been extended via digital technologies, therein further complicating our interactions with and applications of visual media. Ethical practice here, then, tends to be necessarily situated, depending upon recursive reflection and constant questioning of one’s research processes, objectives and modes of engagement.

This session aims simultaneously to expose practitioners to, and build a resource base of, visual ethics ‘in action’ in digital contexts. It relies upon two streams:

  • an online forum hosted here, on the SVA’s webpages, where, prior to the AAA meetings, contributors will submit short descriptions of the ethical dimensions of their in-progress or recently-completed visual/digital research (click on tabs in the adjacent column to explore presenters’ various subject areas). These will provide fodder for more extensive debate in:
  • an open, live-streamed presentation and discussion session at the AAA meetings in Washington, DC on Saturday, 6 December, 9am-10.45am & 2.30pm-4.15pm EST where various contributors to the blog will present either on-site or via Google Hangouts, and contribute in real time to reflections/direct commentary on the online forum itself. View PART I of the session here. View PART II here.

The former will provide a stable space within which ethical debates can be added to and developed in the lead up to, during, and after the 2014 meetings. The latter offers a concentrated opportunity to channel the collective wisdom of participants (both at the meetings and online) into the negotiation and rethinking of ethical visual practice in the digital world.

Here we discuss the application of digital media to a series of fraught visual contexts – repatriation, state building, border-crossing, blogging, the visual effects industry, clinical research, teaching, and sex trafficking – in a range of environments, local and global—from Indonesia to Australia, North America to the Emirates. We consider the dimensions of open access, cloud-based storage, privacy, anonymity, exposure and visibility, political participation, identity-building, and the larger implications of the sharing and protection of data and the people who produce, circulate and represent those data.

 Mitali Thakor Sabra Thorner Migual Diaz Barriga Thet Win Brent Luvaas el-Sayed el-Aswad Barbara Hoffman Jessika Tremblay Kendall Roark Aaron Thornburg 

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