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Course archive of courses that were offered in the last years and are currently not on the curriculum as such:


Introduction to Visual Anthropology (Chris Wright)

Taught at the in-house WS08/09 and WS09/10

For some, there is no question about what visual anthropology is: it is ethnographic film and video (and, in the past, photography), and is defined by its content – exotic others – and its style – documentary. On the other hand, visual anthropology may be less an extension of anthropological research (new media through which to pursue traditional ethnographic concerns) than it is a convergence of practices drawn from diverse fields - academic, commercial, artistic - that escapes any easy definition. As well as providing an introduction to the sub-discipline, this course productively questions existing definitions of visual anthropology. It looks at various accounts of the sub-discipline, but also looks beyond immediate disciplinary concerns in order to explore the possibilities for a visual anthropology that is not only connected with the professional concerns of anthropologists (for many of whom visual anthropology is unimportant), and with adequately presenting anthropologically-informed representations to a larger public, but that also extends our understanding of the world in creative new ways.

This course considers visual anthropology in its historical perspective; asks how it is related to text-based anthropology; questions its role in relation to indigenous media; and explores the ways in which it can engage with other senses. The range of material covered is designed to give you a base from which to develop your own research interests and visual practices. The course will consist of a series of themed lectures with accompanying visual material and screenings of film extracts, followed by seminars and various kinds of group work. The constant use of visual material as examples will emphasise the links between theory and practice, and you will be required to make visual work before the course begins, as well as carrying out small practical exercises while it is running.


Visual Anthropology and Ethics (Anne-Marie Reynaud)

Taught at the in-house SS09

An anthropologist might be faced with the dilemma between giving a comprehensive theoretical account that requires detailed descriptions of an informant’s life, and the detrimental consequences that publishing this description would have on the person.  A documentary filmmaker might be faced with ethical questions, such as issues of representation, privacy, consent, and so forth.  Visual Anthropologists have to juggle between the ethical requirements of both fields: Anthropology because of the nature of their work, and Media because of the medium they use and distribution.  It’s a fine balance for those wishing to air their films on television to “stay true” to anthropology and not loose scientific credibility by abiding to television production requirements.  So most ethnographic films end-up “unshown” in archives.

This course will give a historical overview of the discussion of ethics in anthropology, as well as look at how ethical issues are approached in the fields of journalism and documentary film.  Drawing on these sources as well as anthropological and media ethics guidelines, we will seek to specify the ethical issues facing visual anthropologists and work toward the creation of Visual Anthropology ethical guidelines


Applied Visual Anthropology (Julia Berg)

Taught at the in-house SS09

Where do you want to go after graduating? In which ways will it be possible to continue making films? In this class we will look at some possibilities for working independently in the field of documentary filmmaking - for example, making films and videos for television, NGOs, or the web. We will discuss how (and if) one can apply filmmaking techniques favoured in Visual Anthropology in non-academic uses; we will briefly talk through different approaches in these different fields, and look at how to get started: How to find finance for a film, how to apply for film-funding, how to approach commissioning editors at television. The course will give students a first idea of what it involves working as an independent filmmaker.


Experimental Photography (Chris Wright)

Taught at the in-house SS09

This module will look creatively and productively at the role of photography in contemporary visual anthropology. Despite the fact that visual anthropology should encompass a whole range of visual media and methodologies, there is relatively little writing or theorising that deals with photography. Visual anthropology is mostly seen as synonymous with documentary ethnographic film (now digital video). There may be several reasons for this lack of engagement with photography and we will explore some possible explanations for this omission. The material that does exist includes some useful discussions of other photographic cultures, ie. the kinds of photography practiced in central India (see Pinney), the Gambia (see Buckley), and elsewhere. While other accounts deal, often in a restricted sense, with photography as a methodology in ethnographic fieldwork (see Banks + Pink). What is missing is a view that takes account of the existence of many different photographies – the ways in which photography is locally inflected – and combines it with work on cognition and visual sense.

The module will combine lectures and screenings of photographers work, with practical elements. So you will need to bring a camera with you on both days. This will need to be some form of digital camera - not necessarily an expensive digital camera, a reasonable quality camera on a mobile phone will do. You will also need to bring all the attachments to allow you to download the images from the camera onto a computer (ie. USB leads etc.). This will enable us to look at the work you produce for the practical exercise straight away.

In tracing the convergence of new photographic theory, anthropological studies of photography, approaches to the visual sense, and photographic work from contemporary art, the module will suggest a series of productive experimental approaches to the use of photography in visual anthropology.


Ethnographic Film Production (developed and taught by Julia Berg)

Online course taught SS09

The course will help preparing students for their final film projects. By watching other student’s graduation films (including my own) we will discuss different approaches and styles of filmmaking as well as difficulties, challenges and problems that might occur during the making of an ethnographic film. We will go through different aspects and stages of filmmaking: Finding a subject and writing the proposal, getting access to the field, conducting fieldwork and filming people, working with sound and different languages, editing and presenting your film. Students will be ask to watch films, read accompanying literature, do small exercises and share their thoughts and experiences on discussion-board.


Editing moving images  (Angela Christlieb) 

Digital Editing Workshop  In-house class

 This workshop gives an introduction on how to use a professional Avid On-Line Workstation and a Final Cut Pro On-Line Workstation, as well as how to work with an editor and a basic overview into various forms of film and TV- editing techniques (including examples). The class will cover the following topics: the medium of digital non-linear editing, organizing your material, storyboarding, editing shots into sequences, the fundamentals of Avid effects.  Different forms of audio editing including adjusting natural sound, adding music and mixing narration. Elements of classic editing techniques like reverse angle, eye-line match, crosscutting and jump cuts will be explained with various examples as well as the importance of rhythm and pacing. The purpose is to complete and outplay several short editing projects while using footage from the Camera workshop.




Latin America through images and sound: exploring the boundaries of Audio Visual Anthropology (Ricardo Greene) WS10

In-house class

In this course students will be introduced to the set of questions that drive visual anthropology practice and theory in Latin America.  We will examine and discuss a number of films and photo series produced within the region, along with the theoretical, ethical and aesthetical questions they raise. 

Both traditional and experimental means of using visual images to produce and represent anthropological knowledge will be exposed, but special concern will be placed in those that have used the media in a creative way, which can be seen as a strategy set to challenge narrative and aesthetical conventions unreflexively imported from developed countries.  Offering a broad perspective on the “field”, the course will not only discuss works expressly created within visual anthropology, but also those of “anthropological interest”, whether they come from experimental cinema, film studies, video art or documentary filmmaking. 

The course will address key areas of anthropological engagement in contemporary Latin America, such as precarious work, gender inequalities, political borders, citizenship, institutional violence, indigenous identity and the nation state.  By paying close attention to work produced in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Brazil and Colombia, we will be attuned to what an anthropological perspective, and particularly the use of the camera, brings to our understanding of contemporary issues in Latin America.




"A pas de Deux for Muses: if cinema and social science can't converse at least they can dance together." (Gary Kildea) WS10

In-house class

Some regard documentary film as a natural, even necessary, extension of the modern "anthropological voice" whilst for other it lacks legitimacy, trading, as it does, in mere surfaces; unable, as it is, to run an argument in the traditional sense.  Likewise, non-fiction film can be seen as not quite art because its material is gathered rather than invented and its inspiration more empirical than imaginative.  Over two days we will look at a series of films and clips and dip in to a diversity of literature - from both sides of the divide - by way of thinking through the odd position of documentary: stuck out there between art and science.



Haptic Cinema (Super 8 workshop, Florian Walter, Tobias Becker and Mark Dölling) WS10

In-house class

In this workshop, we will explore the limits and possibilities of a so-called transcultural montage in ethnographic film production. We are going to analyze the terms montage and transcultural (e.g., what is culture and what is the prefix trans supposed to mean). The workshop examines the possibilities and limits of anthropological knowledge production in the audiovisual field of anthropology. In a situation of intensified global interconnections and deterritorialization, new cinematic languages are required to create more adequate representations of people engaging in increased cultural mobility and dialogue. The film projects you are asked to realize embark on an experimental ethnography. They seek to capture processes of transcultural communication by drawing on experimental uses of montage and its inbuilt possibilities of crossing and defying cultural borders. It takes montagescapes as vehicles of artistic reflection on the complexities of intercultural dialogue and of multisensorial and synaesthetic modes of perception. When applying these concepts and discourses on ethnographic filmproduction we will blur the borders of ethnographic and experimental cinema. By the end of the workshop, you and your fellow student are supposed to have edited a 5-minute ethnographic short film in super 8 format.