Profile Module C: Applied Visual and Media Anthropology (15 credits)

The goal of this profile module is the communication of propaedeutic principles and practice-relevant fundamental knowledge in the area of visual-anthropological work in the journalistic field. In this module the students learn, among other things, what is necessary for the development of a professional TV program for a TV magazine with cultural, especially foreign-related topic foci.

C1) Photography and Anthropology (Dr. Samuli Schielke)

In-house class, NON-GRADED

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, 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 not just to provide you with practical skills for using your camera in the field. More centrally, it is about learning 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 two key texts 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. Please also bring with you an analogue camera, preferably one with manually adjustable focus, aperture and shutter speed. If you do not have one, buy one on the flea market (but do check that it works!). They are very cheap. (If you live in Berlin, Practica is a good, inexpensive and widely available choice.) Film will be provided.

C2) Space & Place. Theories of Perception and Methods for Visualisation (Christian Reichel, Mike Terry)


In this seminar we deal with the question of how individuals and communities perceive their environment and the meanings within it that are based on culturally distinct ideas, concepts and norms. The course is organized in three parts: first, students are provided with a foundation of contemporary theory to approach space and place questions in their own research. Second, students are instructed in methods and techniques for gathering theoretically informed data in the field . Third, in order to make implicit frames of reference explicit, students are offered strategies for visually representing the data in an anthropological context. This course is structured to span 10 weekly class meetings with 3 groupwork assignments and a final paper / project. The Theory and Methods section comprises three meetings each while the Representation section is comprised of four sections split between mapping and film/photography.

C3)  Applied Visual Anthropology in Health in Africa (Dr. Sophie Kotanyi)

In-house class (kick-off) + online, GRADED COURSE 

Applied visual anthropology can be used in various areas of life in ways that allow:

(1) The documentation of realities; (2) Exchange between groups of people that are geographically far removed from and have little means of communication with each other (such as rural populations in Mozambique and DR Congo); (3) The influencing of practices; (4) The promotion of applied research in specific sectors, and (5) The support of analyses of training practices, enabling people to connect the planning of programs and activities with the realities and interests of the involved persons.

The seminar combines instruction in applied visual methodologies with the analysis of film documents realized, some medical anthropology necessary at the background, and used in applied anthropological activities in the sectors of health (traditional healing, mental health and sociocultural approaches of HIV/AIDS) in Mozambique and DR Congo. It illuminates professional perspectives in applied visual anthropology, inspiring participants to develop applied visual anthropological practices in various areas of life, in diverse areas supporting diverse objectives.

Participants are encouraged to choose a thematic related to health for their visual anthropological work during this semester and master, in order to learn practicing applied visual anthropology in health, with the support of Dr. Sophie Kotanyi.