Monday, 11 March 2013

Anthropological research assignment

The core idea of the course is for the students to do an anthropological research, about the topic of urban phantasmagory, with a visual anthropology approach. 
Please send me a preliminary draft version of your plan containing at least what is your topic, and what kind of visual anthropology approach you intend to use latest 18.3. (if you cannot already name those 14.3.)

Few basic things:


1. Anthropological research is first and foremost ethnographic study, based on first hand contact with people connected to the phenomenon you want to study. This means you need to do field-work: interview people, make observations, collect documents by yourselves. Even if the data you go for would be e.g. websites with pictures, I strongly encourage you to find a way how to immerse yourselves in the locations, how to get a feel of the thing yourselves.

2. Anthropologists rarely move in bigger troupes than pairs, so this assignment is meant for to be done either individually, or with in a pair.

3. The basic aim, as Malinowski states, is to "grasp the native's point of view, his relation to life, to realize his vision of his world". The task is not about your interpretation of the phenomenon, but about how the "natives" see it and think about it, even if your interpretation there also will be. You need to be aware of the difference: here is how the people see it - these are my conclusions about it.

4. Remember, anthropology looks always both at some concrete and local phenomenon, seeing through it something more universal or common or translatable to all human beings and cultures. This is why we will combine the research assignment with the literature assignment, to ensure you have conceptual tools for thinking about your chosen subjects.

Visual anthropology

1. You have the "six visual domains": photo, film (video), tv, arts & crafts, built environment, performance.

2. And you can choose if you are interested in visual as means of getting data, or as object of your study: either e.g. you take photos/video sacred places, or, you collect and study photos/videos presenting sacred places. 

3. Report and present your results in a visual format.

Urban phantasmagory

You should study a phenomenon within the topic of the city and the sacred/ fantastic/ superstition/ ritual/ etc. Possible examples:
- sacred places. And either study how the places themselves, or representations of the sacred places. What places are sacred? 
- sacred images: what images (of the city, of places...) are sacred? 
- rituals. Rites of passage: changing from one role/status/place to another. Rites of purity/impurity. Everyday rites of constructing reality.
- ghosts and ghouls
- superstitions

Practical stuff

Draft a research plan:
- what is your topic? what do you want to study?
- what is your approach? What visual domain will you concentrate on? from what angle?
- what will you need to do: observe - how, when, how to document? interview, same questions. where can you find visual material? how will you use it?
- how will you realize the report?

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