Students are introduced to the basic working methods and theories of Media Anthropology. They are familiarized with prevalent approaches and theories and their application Media Anthropology consists of two modules. 2a and 2c are in-house courses in Berlin. 2b is an Online-course.
In-house class + online, NON-GRADED
This workshop is an introduction to the epistemology and methodology of qualitative data collection and exposition. The course will address the dominant theoretical approaches to qualitative research (analytic, grounded theory, interpretive, narrative, phenomenological). The class is designed for graduate students who are planning their research and data collection. Special attention will be paid to epistemological and methodological considerations as they pertain to the practice of visual anthropology.
Please note: This class requires advance preparation in order to make the most of the short time we have together. You will need to dedicate considerable amounts of time in preparing adequately for the four meetings during the two in-house classes (readings and working with data), and you should plan your time accordingly. All readings and assignments need to be completed as in-house class activities are based on these. Experience shows that you will be able to use most of your written assignments in your MA thesis. This is good news. The bad news is that students who cannot prepare the readings or who cannot complete the assignments will not be able to participate.
Technology infiltrates nearly every aspect of our lives. You are likely reading this on your computer or smartphone, from a digital file that you downloaded. This course will push you to critically consider technologies that are ubiquitous—and often invisible—and how they affect both individual identity and social life. We will begin this course with an examine what we mean when we talk about digital anthropology, and how scholars throughout the twentieth century have addressed disruptive technologies. We will then study case studies that examine various aspects of the intersection between culture and technology. The goal of this course is for students to conduct an (audio-)visual fieldwork in an online community of their choice. In doing so, they will be able to practice ethnographic fieldwork methods, such as participant observation and various interview techniques, in digital environments. Through the use of visual anthropological and ethnographic methods, students will produce short virtual in-world-films (machinimas) or visually based research papers on topics such as the representation of indigenous media in digital environments, political activism online, post-internet art, (de-)construction of gender and sexuality, and the analysis of digital space and place. The course will take place as an Adobe Connect webinar. All recommended and mandatory readings can be found on the Blackboard for the course Digital Anthropology. Each week, students will present the mandatory readings in small groups via voice chat with webcams.
You can access the Adobe Connect webinar with a smartphone or computer. It is recommended that you use a headset for optimal audio quality.
*** Some of the best final projects of this course are will be considered for publication in our online journal found here: http://www.visual-anthropology.fu-berlin.de/journal/index.html
Photography has an ambiguous place in cultural and social anthropology. Originally celebrated for being an objective means to document and study peoples and races, early anthropological photography became embedded into colonialist and racist exploitation, but it also provided inspiration for new projects in documentary photography that searched to look at the humanity of its subjects. Most crucially perhaps, with the rapid spread of photography around the world, the photograph soon ceased to be a technology of the Western colonial power as people around the world sought to record their status and aspiration in studio photographs. And with the emergence of snapshot photography, introduced in early 20th century and most dramatically magnified by digital imaging and mobile phones in the past decade, photography has developed into an everyday practice of remembrance, self-making, creativity, communication, and social commentary around the world. In current anthropology, the belief in the objectivity of photographs has long since waned, replaced by a reflective understanding of many meanings, uses and powers of the photographic image. This has made it only more fruitful for anthropological research, partly through the use of photography as a technique of fieldwork and publication, and partly as photography as a social practice has become a part of visual anthropology’s subject matter.
In this in-house class we focus on this ambiguity of photography as a method and a subject of anthropology by the means of a combination of readings in ethnographic research, works of art and documentary photographers, and practical experiments. The aim of this course is to learn to reflect about the making and the uses of the photographic image in its different forms. In the in-house class we will approach the subject experimentally, discussing and testing different ways of photographing, being photographed and using images.
Prior to the in-house class you will receive three key texts, two of which you have to read in advance. Please bring with you to the in-house class a photograph which you find to be expressing, illustrating, commenting, confirming, developing, questioning or contradicting the ideas conveyed in the two texts (or one of them). The only condition is that you were involved in the making of the photograph, be it as the photographer, the photographed, or in some other way. If you have a digital version of the image, please e-mail it to me not later than two days before the class. We will use polaroid and analogue cameras in the experimental part of the course. If you have one, bring it along. There will also be cameras available, and film will be provided.