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Aynur Kadir

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June 1, 2016

Ethiraj Gabriel Dattatreyan on Self-Fashioning and Collaborative Ethnography in the Digital Age

June 1, 2016 | By | No Comments

VAR SUPPLEMENTS 2016

VAR 31-2

Ethiraj Gabriel Dattatreyan on Self-Fashioning and Collaborative Ethnography in the Digital Age

VAR SUPPLEMENTS: Classroom Activities and Discussion Questions

Ethiraj Gabriel Dattatreyan’s “Waiting Subjects: Social media inspired self-portraits as gallery exhibition in Delhi, India” (VAR 31-2, Fall 2015) collaboratively curates an ‘accidental’ archive of digital image-making practices by young Somali refugees in India as the site where subjectivities are self-fashioned and ethnographic insights emerge.

Keywords: photography, ethnography, selfie, Somalia, Delhi, photovoice

 

Suggested study questions and activities

Designed for undergraduate and graduate students to address key methodological questions about collaboration and digital affordances.

 

Collaboration: Discussion and/or writing exercise (students spend 10 minutes writing a quick response to the following question).

  • What does collaboration mean to you? How does this concept fit with the ethos of ethnography? How has a collaborative or shared anthropology been imagined? Is ethnography already always collaborative by the nature of its engagement? If so, what does an explicitly shared or collaborative ethnography imply and entail?
  • How might digital technologies reinvigorate, and yet, complicate the possibility for creating collaborative ethnographic projects? What sorts of opportunities/challenges do digital infrastructures (social media, smart phones, digital audio-video technology) create with regard to collaborative ethnography?
  • In the VAR article, “Waiting Subjects,” how does the Dattatreyan utilize the social media inspired photographs of his participants as an ethnographic site?
  • What does the author argue are the limits of these photographs?

 

Shared Anthropology: Assigned film viewing, with discussion and/or writing exercise. Watch this video of Jean Rouch discussing the future of visual anthropology: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvyXCpzpJJs

  • Jean Rouch was one of the pioneers of a shared anthropology that utilizes audio-visual technology. Why do you think he argues that the easily available, inexpensive digital video cameras in our moment aren’t ‘real’ cameras? How does this sentiment impact how we might imagine collaboration in the digital age? What do you think John Rouch would say about the author’s investments in the digital practices of his interlocutors in the field?

 

Social Media: Social media exercise. Read this short primer on “Why we are all digital anthropologists” by Olivia Bellas: http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/29/opinion/mystreet-digital-anthropology/ . Students use social media to find short videos or photographs shot by non-experts.

  • Following Bellas, what do you think of this idea that ‘everyone’ is now an anthropologist with the advent of digital technology?
  • Regarding the virtual artifacts collected from social media, are these objects ethnographic? Why or why not? What can we know from the objects you have retrieved? What remains unknown?

 

 

Additional readings:

Lassiter, Luke Eric (2005). Collaborative Ethnography, Public Anthropology. Current Anthropology 46 (1) pp. 83-106.

 

Boellstorff, Tom (2012) Rethinking Digital Anthropology in Heather A. Horst and Daniel Miller (eds.). Bloomsbury Press. http://www.socsci.uci.edu/~tboellst/bio/Rethinking.pdf

 

Pink Sarah, Horst, Heather, Postill, John, Hjorth, Larissa, Lewis, Tania, Tacchi, Joe (2015) Digital Ethnography, Principles and Practice. Introduction. https://www.academia.edu/18841210/Ethnography_in_a_Digital_World

 

Aynur Kadir

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May 27, 2016

Zoe Bray on “Anthropology with a Paintbrush”

May 27, 2016 | By | No Comments

Zoe Bray on “Anthropology with a Paintbrush”

VAR SUPPLEMENTS: Classroom Activities and Discussion Questions

Zoe Bray’s “Anthropology with a Paintbrush: Naturalist-Realist Painting as ‘Thick Description‘” (VAR 31-2, Fall 2015) advances the practice of naturalist-realist portrait-painting as an under-explored method and medium of visual anthropology where slow-paced observations and interaction provide opportunities for making “thick descriptions” on canvas.

Suggested study exercises and questions

  1. Exercise: Take a drawing tool (charcoal, pencil, crayon, or paintbrush..) and paper, and spend about 20 minutes drawing an object of your choice in front of you (this could be simply a cup or a book. Ideally place it in natural light, rather than under artificial lighting. Sit or stand a meter or so away from it – i.e. Not too close and not too far away. Take breaks from time to time). Reflect on this process of visually studying an object.

How has drawing helped you to understand this object? Did taking breaks help you to see better? What effect did standing closer or further away from the object have?

  1. Repeat the exercise, this time spending a little more time, and drawing another person who is willing to sit for you. It can be a friend or a fellow-student you do not know so well.

What happened during the drawing session? Did you chat? What did you pay attention to? How do you feel drawing helped you to see the person? What new knowledge about the person do you feel you got from drawing her or him? Do you feel you know the person better in some way or other?

  1. Hold a mirror to the side of your face and look into it with the eye closest to it. In the mirror’s reflection you can look at your drawing in reverse.

What can you see in your drawing that you didn’t see before? What do you think of your drawn interpretation of the model? How do you think it could be improved?

  1. Look at videos of different artists drawing or painting other individuals live (or better still: observe artists in action!) Two videos of the author Zoe Bray portrait-painting live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtI0ia13QgI —and— https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_ZnO2Njnz8 .

Think about how the artists see what they see, and what they choose to depict. What do you think they are looking out for? How do you think they are transferring this knowledge onto the paper/canvas? What can you speculate about these artists’ particular individual sensibility, and the role that technical skill plays in their way of depicting?

  1. Sit for someone else.

Think about how the person drawing you is looking at you. How does it feel to be represented? What do you think about the drawing done of you? What do you think the artist/student has ‘captured’ of you? Why? Does having sat for someone else help you in your own drawing? How?

Kate Hennessy

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May 27, 2016

SAPIENS’ Call for Photo Essays

May 27, 2016 | By | No Comments

Print

In January 2016, the Wenner-Gren Foundation launched SAPIENS, an editorially independent online publication devoted to popularizing anthropological research to an international, general-interest audience.

The foundation is bringing substantial resources to the project to sustain a beautiful website, support an editorial staff (comprised of both anthropology experts and journalists), and promote the site with an active marketing strategy. We anticipate that the magazine is on track to become a leading site for news, features, commentaries, reviews, and more highlighting anthropological research. Since its launch, we already have had more than 200,000 readers from 206 countries and territories. We have syndication partnerships with Scientific American, Discover Magazine, Slate, and The Atlantic.

A vital part of our new magazine is photo essays. These consist of 6–12 images, an introduction, and accompanying captions. In the tradition of visual anthropology, we seek original, high-quality sets of images that convey a story or draw our readers into an important and memorable place in time. An introduction (typically 100–300 words) should provide context for the essay, and each image should be accompanied by a caption (up to 75 words) that provides context and adds more information and insight.

To date, we’ve been able to present a wide range of excellent photo essays, from a long piece on the immigration crisis, to an insider’s view of a hospital in Niger caring for women suffering from obstetric fistula, to a story of how the simple ladder used by Pueblo Indians reveals their complex cosmology, to the controversial convenience stores run by immigrants in Belgium, to an artistic meditation on Native American massacre sites in the United States.

Help us transform how the public understands anthropology. Review our guidelines and please consider pitching a photo essay to the editors at editor@sapiens.org.

 

 

 

Aynur Kadir

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May 10, 2016

*** LAST CHANCE TO SUBMIT FOR THE MAY 15 LATE DEADLINE***

May 10, 2016 | By | No Comments

2016 Society for Visual Anthropology (SVA) Film & Media Festival – Minneapolis, MN

The Society for Visual Anthropology’s Film and Media Festival invites submissions for its 2016 Festival in the following categories: Ultrashort, Short, and Feature. Please submit your films via Withoutabox.

The Society for Visual Anthropology screens the best ethnographic films and video productions at our annual SVA Film & Media Festival, held in conjunction with the American Anthropological Association (AAA) Annual Meeting. This gives independent filmmakers as well as distributors broad access to a market of several thousand anthropologists and educators.

Ethnographic film and video defined broadly as works created as the result of ethnographic fieldwork or those which use, are informed by, or illustrate the principles of anthropological theory or methods.

For inquiries about this year’s festival in Minneapolis, please contact SVAFMF’s 2016 co-Directors Ulla D. Berg or Kathryn Ramey at svafilmfestival@gmail.com <mailto:svafilmfestival@gmail.com>
For more information about American Anthropology Associations and its annual meetings, please visit:www.aaanet.org/meetings <http://www.aaanet.org/meetings>
For more information about the Society for Visual Anthropology, please visit: http://societyforvisualanthropology.org/ <http://societyforvisualanthropology.org/>

Kate Hennessy

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April 17, 2016

Visual Anthropology Review seeks Book Review Editors

April 17, 2016 | By | No Comments

Visual Anthropology Review, the premier journal in visual anthropology, is looking for two individuals to head the US and European book review sections of VAR. The book review editors solicit and select suitable books, recruit reviewers, edit the reviews, preparing 2-3 reviews for each issue of VAR, and submit them to the journal co-editors for publication. While working with the journal’s editorial team, the book review editors have a great deal of freedom to shape the reviews section as they see fit. This is an ideal position for someone who wants to become more involved in academic publishing, make contacts across the visual anthropology community, and keep abreast of cutting edge scholarship in visual anthropology. We seek one editor based in the US and one based elsewhere to deal with presses in their regions.

Interested parties should send a cv and a brief description (300 words) of the experience and innovations they would hope to bring to the VAR book reviews section by May 1st to the present editors: Ruth E. Toulson (rtoulson@mica.edu) and Kathryn Lichti-Harriman (whirldpixc@gmail.com)

Kate Hennessy

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April 7, 2016

Call for Pre Screeners – 2016 Society for Visual Anthropology Film & Media Festival

April 7, 2016 | By | No Comments

Dear colleagues,
Society For Visual Anthropology Film and Media Festival (SVAFMF) is looking for pre-screeners to preview this year’s film submissions and provide the festival jury with feedback that we will use to make programing decisions. This is an exciting opportunity for you to have a sneak peak at some of this year’s submissions and to participate in programming for the festival. Being a pre-screener entails watching one or more feature length submissions online (from the comfort of your home or office), and providing us with a descriptive feedback on each film assigned to you (using our standard questionnaire). As a pre-screener you will be thanked by name in our festival program and (if you want) you will also be given the opportunity to chair a film program of your choice. All pre-screener evaluations are due by Sunday, May 29, 2016. The criteria to be a pre-screener includes:
– Pre-screeners must be active members of AAA
– Pre-screeners must keep all entries and evaluations confidential
– Pre-screeners must not have an film entry in this year’s festival
– Pre-screeners must commit to viewing and evaluating their assigned films by the May 29 deadline (or give us an advance notice if they are unable to fulfill their assignments)
To sign up to be a pre-screener for this year’s festival, simply send an email at your earliest convenience with SUBJECT: “Pre-screener sign up,” and the following information in the BODY of the email: your full name, institutional affiliation, and the number of film you are interested in pre-screening to: svafilmfestival@gmail.com
Please circulate, and please reply ASAP!
Thank you,  
Ulla D. Berg
Co-Director,

2016 SVA Film and Media Festival

Kate Hennessy

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February 24, 2016

Funded PhD positions – Max Planck Institute, Jena, Germany

February 24, 2016 | By | No Comments

The Minds and Traditions research group (“the Mint”), an Independent Max Planck Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena (Germany) is offering two grants for two doctoral projects focusing on “cognitive science and cultural evolution of visual culture and graphic codes“.

Funding is available for four years (three years renewable twice for six months), starting inSeptember 2016.

The PhD students will be expected to take part in a research project investigating the evolution of graphic codes and the rise of writing.

If interested, please send a motivation letter (maximum two pages) to the group’s principal investigator, Olivier Morin (morin@shh.mpg.de) by March the 21st, 2016.

Full details can be downloaded here (pdf).

Kate Hennessy

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February 22, 2016

2016 Visual Research Conference: Call for Proposals

February 22, 2016 | By | No Comments

The Society for Visual Anthropology’s Visual Research Conference will take place in Minneapolis, Minnesota this year, November 14-16, at the beginning of the American Anthropological Association meeting. An informal no-host dinner takes place on Monday night and interactive presentations take place all day Tuesday and until 3pM on Wednesday. The Visual Research Conference provides an opportunity for professionals and students to dialogue about visually engaged works-in-progress. There are no specific themes to follow, though we are most interested in new ideas and projects under development in the study of visual signification, visual communication, and visual forms of representation, and/or utilizing visual media (photo, film, web, polymedia, intermedia). Forty-five minute time slots allow for substantive presentations that include viewing of visual material as well as ample give-and-take with an actively participating audience. Further discussion takes place during poster presentations. Many informal discussion periods between the interactive formal presentations, plus conversations at lunch and dinner, create multiple situations for networking and exchange of ideas. Members and non-members of the American Anthropological Association and Society for Visual Anthropology are welcome and there is no charge to attend. This is a productive way to meet and interact with others who do anthropological and anthropologically-related visual research.

Abstracts of 250 words (but not more than 500 words) can be submitted through 12 midnight, Pacific Standard Time,  April 1, 2016 by clicking on the Visual Research Conference submission form link HERE.

PLEASE NOTE: this Visual Research Conference submission deadline on April 1 is EARLIER than the American Anthropological Association’s Annual Meeting submission deadline on April 15, so that the Visual Research Conference organizing committee has time to carefully review the submissions and invite the 2016 presenters. The Visual Research Conference is not the SVA Film and Media Festival, so if you want to screen a film, please refer to that link and submission.

For more information on the format of this lively event and how to submit a presentation, visit our page on the SVA web site or contact Dr. Tom Blakely (tdblakely@aol.com), Dr. Andrea Heckman (andreaheckman@earthlink.net), or Dr. Jerome Crowder (jecrowde@utmb.edu).

Kate Hennessy

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January 6, 2016

Congratulations to Thomas D. Blakely, 2015 SVA Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

January 6, 2016 | By | No Comments

The Society for Visual Anthropology’s Lifetime Achievement Award for 2015 has been awarded to Thomas Dustin Blakely. He received his Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 1981 and was a founding member of the SVA, serving as its President and its representative on the American Anthropological Association Executive Board in 1986 and 1987. He has done six years of ethnographic fieldwork (including 60,000 photographs, hundreds of research films and audio recordings) in Central Africa among Báhêmbá in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. He is the organizer and master of ceremony of the Visual Research Conference from its inception in 1985 through the present time. Professor Blakely provides a collegial setting for these Conferences that has inspired and assisted students and professionals for the last 30 years. The presentations are works-in-progress, and many of them have subsequently been published (Scherer 2012). No one has been more dedicated to the teaching of visual anthropology than Professor Blakely. His nurturing of students where he is currently teaching at Albright College and the Berks Campus of Penn State University (where he won the Outstanding Teacher Award in 2006), and previously at Brigham Young University and Temple University, is evidence of this dedication. He has published works in visual semiotics, proxemics, and gesture; ethnographic photography and film; religion in Africa; and African arts and performance. His contributions to SVA have also included serving several times each as AAA Program Chair for SVA, as juror for the SVA Film Festival, and SVA Anthropology Newsletter editor, as well as publishing a directory of visual anthropologists’ research and filmmaking, which includes a valuable history of the predecessors of the society.

Selected works:

Blakely, Thomas D. 1983. “To Gaze or Not to Gaze: Visual Communication in Eastern Zaïre”, in Richard Bauman and Joel Sherzer, eds., Case Studies in the Ethnography of Speaking, pp. 234-248. Austin: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.

Thomas D. Blakely, 1989. “PIEF, SAVICOM, SVA: North America Visual Anthropology Organizations 1966-1989,” Directory of Visual Anthropology, Washington, D.C.: American Anthropological Association/Society for Visual Anthropology.

Blakely, Thomas D. and Pamela A. R. Blakely 1987. “So’o Masks and Hêmbá Funerary Festival”, African Arts 20(1):30-37, 84-86.

Blakely, Thomas D. and Pamela A.R. Blakely, 1989. Directory of Visual Anthropology. Washington, D.C.: American Anthropological Association/Society for Visual Anthropology.

Blakely, Thomas D. and Eliot Elisofon 1974. African Carving: A Dogon Kanaga Mask [film]. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard Film Study Center. Distributed by Phoenix Films and Documentary Educational Films.

Blakely, Thomas D. and Joan Swayze Williams, eds. Anthropological Excellence in Film: Ten Years of Award Winners in the SVA/AAA Film and Video Festival.Arlington, Virginia: Society for Visual Anthropology/American Anthropological Association.

Blakely, Thomas D., Walter E A van Beek, Dennis L Thomson, eds. 1994. Religion in Africa: Experience and Expression. London: James Currey, Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann.

Blakely, Pamela A.R. and Thomas D. Blakely, 1994. “Ancestors, ‘Witchcraft’, and Foregrounding the Poetic: Men’s Oratory and Women’s Song-Dance in Hêmbá Funerary Performance”. In Thomas D. Blakely, et al, 1994. Religion in Africa: Experience and Expression: 398-442.

Heider, Karl. G., Pamela A.R. Blakely, Thomas D. Blakely, Seeing Anthropology: Cultural Anthropology through film, 4th edition. Boston: Allyn & Bacon/Pearson, 2007

Kendon, Adam and Thomas D. Blakely, eds. 1986. Approaches to Gestures, special issue of Semiotica 62(1,2).

Scherer, Joanna 2012. “The Society for Visual Anthropology’s Visual Research Conference: The First Twenty-Four Years (1985-2008). Visual Anthropology Review, vol. 28 (2), Fall.

Kate Hennessy

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December 21, 2015

Contemporary Ethnography Across the Disciplines 2016

December 21, 2015 | By | No Comments

15 – 18 November
University of Cape Town
South Africa
Conference Theme: Ethnographic Imaginings – Place, Space & Time
CFP now open
To register, visit www.cead.org.nz
With the 2016 theme—Ethnographic Imaginings: Place, Space, and Time—calls for contributors to explore ethnographies as located contextually within meaningful sites and temporal moments. The spaces, places and times we can imagine include explorations of rurality and urbanity, wild and tamed, critical and creative, sensual and cognitive, and contemporary and historicaland all ranges of creative impulse. All manner of ethnographies are welcomed, and the conference theme merely acts as a guide for possibilities. We invite contributors to experiment with traditional ethnography, as well as new methodologies and with new presentational formats such as dramatic, performance, poetic, visual, aromatic, tactile, video, auto-, fictional, and experimental forms of ethnography. 

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