Ethnographic Methods and Visual Anthropology - ANTS6270

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


This module introduces ethnography and the ethnographic/documentary film as ways of understanding individual and social lives and the differences between cultures. The focus is critical and practical investigation of the research methods, production and communicative methods underlying them. Students will acquire both critical and practical training in these key ethnographic methodologies. The parallel histories of the development of ethnographic writing and visual anthropology will also be explored to facilitate integration between written and visual media. Indicative themes in the reading, analysis and practice of ethnography may include: (1) Critical and historical contextualisation and evaluation, (2) How to evaluate its contribution to key issues and topics in Social Anthropology; (3) Theoretical contributions; (4) Methodology and research methods; (5) The evaluation of the relationship between description and analysis (6) Examination of its structure, presentation and ability to communicate an understanding of a social and cultural group through the written word; (7) Ethnographies, photography and multi-media. Indicative themes in visual anthropology may include: (1) Collaborative and participatory media production (2) Photography, soundscapes and the senses (3) Cinema Verite and ethnographic film (4) Indigenous media, reception and publics (5) The transformative efficacy of video.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 26
Private study hours: 124
Total study hours: 150


Available as an elective module.

Method of assessment

Essay/Report (50%)
Examination, 2 hours (50%)

Reassessment Instrument: 100% coursework.

Indicative reading

Bourgois, P. and J. Schonberg (2009) Righteous Dopefiend. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Emerson, R. et al. (2011). Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes. Chicago: Chicago UP
Grimshaw, A. 2001. The Ethnographer's Eye: Ways of Seeing in Modern Anthropology. CUP
Jackson, M. 1998. Minima ethnographica: intersubjectivity and the anthropological project. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Jackson, M. (2000) At Home in the World. Durham: Duke University Press.
MacDougall, D 1998. Transcultural Cinema. Princeton University Press
Narayan, K. (2012) Alive in the Writing: Crafting Ethnography in the Company of Chekhov. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Banks, M & Ruby, J (eds). 2011. Made to be Seen: Perspectives on the History of Visual Anthropology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Pink, S. 2001/2007. Doing Visual Ethnography. London: Sage
Theodossopoulos, D. (2016). Exoticisation Undressed: Ethnographic Nostalgia and Authenticity in Emberá Clothes. Manchester: Manchester University Press
West, P. (2012) From Modern Production to Imagined Primitive: The Social World of Coffee from Papua New Guinea. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
8.1 demonstrate critical understanding of a number of ethnographies and ethnographic/documentary films
8.2 demonstrate an informed understanding of the production and analysis of ethnographies and ethnographic/documentary films
8.3 relate specific ethnographic texts and ethnographic/ documentary films to general theoretical anthropological topics or themes within visual anthropology
8.4 demonstrate knowledge of the research methods specific to the disciplines of social and visual anthropology
8.5 construct coherent and logical arguments combining visual and textual discourses, combining conceptual understanding with substantiated ethnographic examples.

8.6 critically relate their reading for this module to wider conceptual and ethical concerns in social anthropology, and the broader relationship between anthropological fieldwork and ethnographic writing
8.7 critically engage with some of the assumptions present in their understanding of the truth claims of ethnographies and ethnographic media productions.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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