Visual Anthropology - SE995

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
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7 15 (7.5) DR N Garcia Bonet







This module is a general introduction to visual anthropology. It includes treatment of cross-cultural cognition and symbolic analysis, the contextualisation of the visual within the wider sensorium, the social history of still photography and film relating to ethnographic subjects, the process of ethnographic filmmaking in terms of wider debates related to intersubjectivity, the study of national and regional cinematic traditions (outside Europe and America), the politics and efficacy of indigenous media, the contexts of visual advocacy and activist filmmaking, the nexus of the visual and medical and the comparative ethnography of television and broader consideration of issues of social representation and political ideology in visual imagery. The module combines empirical ethnographic analysis of these issues with the alternative (complementary) contributions of scholars of visual imagery from a literary and humanistic tradition of interpretation.


This module appears in:

Contact hours



Autumn Term

Method of assessment

The module is assessed by 100% coursework.
65% for a 2000 word essay; 35% for an analytic note on a photograph or film.

Indicative reading

Banks, Marcus & Howard Morphy (eds). 1997. Rethinking Visual Anthropology. Yale, UP
Ruby, J. 2000. Picturing Culture: Explorations in Film and Ethnography. U of Chicago Press
MacDougall, D. 1998. Transcultural Cinema. Princeton University Press
MacDougall, D. 2006. The corporeal image: film, ethnography, and the senses. Princeton, N.J.; Oxford: Princeton University Press.
Collier, John & Malcolm Collier. 1986. Visual Anthropology Photography as a Research Method. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press
Crawford, Peter & David Turton (eds). 1992. Film as Ethnography. Manchester University Press
Barbash, I., L. Taylor, S. Murray & C. Vaughan. 1997. Cross-cultural filmmaking: a handbook for making documentary and ethnographic films and videos. Berkeley: University of California Press.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module MA/MSc students will be able to:
1) explore the theoretical background of anthropological approaches to visual material.
2) consider methodological and theoretical issues with respect to visual representations.
3) address visual and other sensory aspects of anthropological understanding in the light of visual anthropological theory
4) demonstrate a knowledge of basic techniques of visual production.

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