Accepted Paper:

Photography that Revisits: Participatory influences in post-colonial, auto-ethnographic visual anthropology practices  


Shawn Sobers (University of the West of England)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will talk though some of my experiments in visual anthropology and fine art photography, which employs archive imagery as stimuli to find the blurred lines between discourses and presenting the visual anthropology as the art work, and the art work as the anthropology.

Paper long abstract:

My current creative practice - of a photographic discourse which revisits and moves closer into the subject after the shutter has been pressed - brings together three distinct but (for me) related areas in my educational background; BA in film & photography, MA in Anthropology of Media, and a PhD in Participatory & Community Media. Challenging the accepted practices of contemporary fine art photography as a medium which is largely self-contained, and that of visual anthropology where the images usually points towards a larger body of background research - my practice is a fusion of the two, with experiments to find the blurred lines and presenting the visual anthropology as the art work, and the art work as the anthropology.

This paper will talk through some of my projects in this area, which draw on archive images, historical documents and other pre-produced stimuli to re-imagine, re-interpret and re-visit ideas with an auto-ethnographic African diaspora post-colonial sensibility. As a practitioner/researcher who also happens to be Rastafarian, I am fully aware of the complexities of embracing anthropology, which is a discipline not without its critics in afro-centric discourses, and this is a tension I bring to my work as a visual anthropologist.

Panel P18
Revisiting the gaze and reinterpreting images across space and time: Photography, subjects, and viewers