Photography as mediation of anthropological knowledge 
Anna Laine
Thera Mjaaland (Former University of Bergen)
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Visual Anthropology
Chemistry G.53
Wednesday 7 August, 9:00-10:00, 14:00-15:00 (UTC+0)

Short Abstract:

This panel investigates how the multivalency and contructedness of photographic images can be used during fieldwork and as means to mediate anthropological knowledge. It invites explorative dialogues between content, form, context and effect, of photographic practices as well as representations.

Long Abstract

This panel is concerned with photography's capacity to mediate anthropological knowledge. The conventional use of photography within the discipline has been informed by ideas of 'capturing evidence' and presenting an 'I was there'. The actual ambiguity regarding the interpretation and effect of photographic images - sometimes understood as subverting anthropological authority - has been handled by treating photographs as mere depictions of visual appearance presented as illustrations bounded by descriptive texts. Higher levels of abstraction that investigate unseen qualities of social phenomena are preferably mediated through texts. However, research focused on visual, multisensuous and material aspects of everyday life increasingly explores a broader potential of photography as practice and representation.

The panel aims to discuss the tensions between photographs as information and photographs as images that can evoke memories and elicit imagination. By bringing forth the constructedness of images, it also concerns conscious approaches to photographic practices during fieldwork. We invite explorative investigations of dialogues between photographic content, form, context and effect, as well as of how the ambiguous relationship between reality and photographs can be utilised in anthropological research. Rather than regarding the camera as a mere recording device, the panel engages with photography as a practice learnt in social situations with a capacity to mediate knowledge produced during fieldwork.

Accepted papers: