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VAR Supplements Archives - Page 2 of 2 - Society for Visual Anthropology

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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October 26, 2015

VAR SUPPLEMENTS: Jonathan Westin on Uncertainty in Historical Visualizations

October 26, 2015 | By | No Comments

Classroom Activities and Discussion Questions

Jonathan Westin’s “Inking a Past: Visualization as a Shedding of Uncertainty” (VAR 30-2, Fall 2014) uses Actor-Network Theory to understand how a visualization studio renders representations of the past.
Questions for classroom discussion:

1. When thinking of the past, for instance Medieval Times or Antiquity, what images form in your mind and how do you differ between the different time periods? Are there certain elements you “include” in your mental image that gives you cues?

2. How does the visualization work of SIF (Studio InkLink Firenze) compare to previous efforts to visualize ancient Rome and other past societies? What are the dominant trends in archeological visualization today?

3. The article describes how an illustration is created through a series of steps that bring shape and form to an initial idea. Is any one step more important than another, and who is the most influential actant in this chain of procedures?

4. The article concludes that it is better to speculate than to only reconstruct what is certain. What dangers lies in both of these approaches respectively, and what are the advantages?

5. How do you think the insights and concepts of Actor-Network Theory can benefit visual anthropologists in their work?

6. One of the most controversial elements of an ANT perspective is the endowing of objects and other nun-human elements with agency, that is, interpreting them as actants within a larger actor-network. What does such a move do to anthropological theory? How does it complicate or clarify the interpretative work of anthropologists?

7. Is it time for an ANT analysis of the field of anthropology itself? Have we escaped the interrogative lens of STS work for too long?

Links:

 

Kate Hennessy

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October 15, 2015

VAR SUPPLEMENTS: Noelle Stout on Promiscuous Circulation

October 15, 2015 | By | No Comments

Noelle Stout’s video interview about her article, “Bootlegged: Unauthorized Circulation and the Dilemmas of Collaboration in the Digital Age” (VAR 30-2, Fall 2014), shows how digital technology both expands the possibilities for collaborative ethnographic filmmaking and challenges these relationships, since videos can be easily copied and circulated beyond the established consent agreements.

 

Kate Hennessy

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October 3, 2015

VAR SUPPLEMENTS: Ethan Sharp on Narcocultura at the Mexican Military Museum

October 3, 2015 | By | No Comments

VAR SUPPLEMENTS: Classroom Activities and Discussion Questions

Ethan Sharp’s “Visualizing Narcocultura: Violent Media, the Mexican Military’s Museum of Drugs, and Transformative Culture” (VAR 30-2, Fall 2014) explores the museumification of drug culture in Mexico as a pedagogical dimension of the drug war.

Sharp1

The following set of questions and resources provide pedagogical tools to be used in undergraduate courses.

Questions for classroom discussion:

  1. What are some insights that you would expect to gain into drug trafficking and the drug war from a visit to the Mexican military’s museum of drugs? What are some insights that the museum might provide that are not available at other sites or in other forms of media?
  2. Why does the Mexican military have a museum of drugs? Why is the museum closed to the general public? Why has the Mexican military allowed journalists and other media professionals to disseminate reports about and photos of the museum in recent years?
  3. How are representations of narocultura in the museum similar to and different from representations of narcocultura in other media, such as television shows, narcocorridos, and films?
  4. What are some of the different ways in which you can interpret the representations of narocultura in the museum? For example, how does the museum promote or celebrate narcocultura? How does it denigrate narcocultura? How does it undermine or move beyond the concept of narcocultura?
  5. How do museums contribute to processes of self-discipline and self-reform? Do you agree that the Mexican military’s museum of drugs contributes to self-discipline and self-reform? Why or why not?
  6. Is it possible to develop a critique of the military and its strategies through the museum? If so, how?
  7. Can you imagine some better uses of the museum, or some ways in which the museum could be re-developed? Do you think that the museum should be opened to the general public? Why or why not?

Sharp2

Additional resources:
Links to representations of the museum in the media that are referenced in footnotes:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/13/AR2010011304573.html

Links to other representations of the museum in the media:

http://www.pri.org/stories/2010-01-26/mexico-citys-drug-museum

Links to blogs that provide information about the drug war in Mexico. These blogs occasionally provide links to videos posted by drug trafficking organizations, as well as videos and other resources posted by citizen journalists.

http://www.blogdelnarco.com/

http://www.borderlandbeat.com/

Other forms of media that are mentioned in the article are narcorridos and telenovelas that feature drug traffickers. The following are links to youtube videos that are trailers for telenovelas and/or videos produced by well-known performers of narcocorridos. I have provided short explanations for each one.

A video by Los Tigres del Norte featuring the corrido of La Reina del Sur. La Reina del Sur was a novel about a woman who became a drug trafficker. The novel was made into a television serial in Mexico: 

A trailer for the television serial “Camelia la Tejana,” which is based on a corrido originally performed by Los Tigres del Norte (the song that is performed in the trailer is the corrido of Camelia la Tejana): 

Video created for the corrido “El Ejecutor” by El Komander: 

A documentary film entitled “Narcocultura,” recently released on DVD provides a very good introduction to the drug war in Mexico and the different forms of media associated with narcocultura. The following is a link to the trailer for the film. 

Sharp4

Kate Hennessy

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September 11, 2015

VAR SUPPLEMENTS: Deborah Matzner on South Asian Soundscapes

September 11, 2015 | By | No Comments

Deborah Matzner’s article on “Jai Bhim Comrade and the Politics of Sound in Urban Indian Visual Culture” in Visual Anthropology Review examines the sonic practices of the Dalit movement in Maharashtra as depicted by Indian documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan.

Figure 5 Megaphone on Taxi

Kate Hennessy

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August 31, 2015

VAR SUPPLEMENTS: William Lempert on Native Science Fiction Film

August 31, 2015 | By | No Comments

VAR SUPPLEMENTS: Classroom Activities and Discussion Questions

The following set of activities is meant to be a teacher-led pedagogical tool for provoking undergraduates to engage their perceptions of indigenous futures. It is hoped that this will help to disrupt the ways in which Native peoples have become representationally embedded within Western media and imaginations as artifacts of the past.

  1. Close your eyes for 60 seconds and in as vivid detail as possible, imagine that extraterrestrials land on Earth today. Write down a few key images.
    • Where do they land and who do they meet?
    • Is there conflict? If so, describe it.
  1. This time, close your eyes for 60 seconds and vividly imagine what the future, broadly defined, will look like in 200 years. Write down a few key images.
    • What utopian and dystopian elements did this include?
    • What role, if any, was there for indigenous people?
  1. List a few of your favorite science fiction films.
    • In what ways do the plots of these films correlate with what you imagined in the first two activities?
    • How influential do you think these films have been on your own ideas about the future?
  1. Watch as many of the clips below as you have time for (totals approximately 35 minutes).
    • What was your reaction to these clips in light of this article?
    • Did you agree with the author’s interpretations? Why or why not?
  1. In light of the article and these viewings, choose one of your listed favorite sci-fi films from activity 3 and briefly describe how it might be reimagined to highlight indigenous perspectives.
  1. To what extent does the article convince you that the representations of indigenous peoples in science fiction films have the potential to make practical differences in the lives of indigenous peoples?

Film Links

Available Film Links

 Lisa Jackson’s The Visit (4 mins)

Vistas – The Visit by Lisa Jackson, National Film Board of Canada

Jeff Barnaby’s File under Miscellaneous (7 mins)

Nanobah Becker’s The 6th World (15 mins)

FOR MORE NATIVE SCI-FI FILM CLIPS, CLICK HERE TO LEMPERT’S ONLINE ARCHIVE OF 18 STREAMING CLIPS

CLICK HERE TO LINK TO A GENERAL AUDIENCE BLOG POST THAT SUMMARIZES THE VAR ARTICLE

Related Readings

Dillon, Grace. 2012. Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Nama, Adilifu. 2008. Black Space: Imagining Race in Science Fiction Film. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Rieder, John. 2008. Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press.

Collins, Samuel. 2008. All Tomorrow’s Cultures: Anthropological Engagements with the Future. New York: Berghahn Books.

Supplemental Resources

 Imagining Indigenous Futurisms – Facebook Page

This facebook page is an excellent resource to critical scholarship and commentary on indigenous futurisms, with regular engagement with Native science fiction films.

IndigiTube

IndigiTube is an Aboriginal Australian example of an video-sharing website that aligns with indigenous futurism in that it is a new media delivery system that appeals to indigenous youth whose primary media engagements are through phones and tablets, as well as its wide variety of topics that transcend binary tropes around tradition and “contemporary modern” life.

Bunky Echo-Hawk’s Website

 

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