Building on the legacy of visual research in anthropology, this panel explores the explosion of images in social life from photographs to selfies, posters, the arts and hypermedia in relation to knowledge production, circulation and contestation including methods, the market, aesthetics and ethics.
Visual research has been a part of anthropology for as long as the discipline has existed. Film and photography were included in the Torres Strait expedition at the end of the 19th century and in the 1930s Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson famously brought back visual data from their fieldwork in Bali. Similarly, leading anthropologists early recognized the social significance of the arts: Boas' Primitive Art is a milestone beyond anthropology and works by Firth and Lévi-Strauss, among others, strongly influenced further research. Contemporary visual anthropology builds to a large extent on the legacy of these scholars. Now there is a quickly growing anthropological interest in the recent explosion of images in social life: from traditional family albums to selfies, posters, the arts, and the media such as the Internet with hypermediacy. This panel investigates the social life of images in terms of aesthetic discourse, the use by political and economic institutions, the market, transnational flows, the production of alternative visual systems, visual methods, ethics and copyright. The panel welcomes papers discussing the following questions: - What kind of images and for whom? How do specific institutions and networks require the production of particular images? - Images as "partial truths": a.)Image versus text. b.)How does the circulation of images between different contexts change the production of knowledge? This accentuates issues of property rights. c.)The role of images in political and cultural contestation. d.)The impact of digital technologies on the perception of images.