EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010

(W049)

Crisis and imag(e)ination: visual studies in and about crisis

Location Auxilia AX2
Date and Start Time 25 Aug, 2010 at 11:30

Convenors

Beate Engelbrecht (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity) email
Nadine Wanono ( IMAf- CNRS) email
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Long Abstract

The way Visual Anthropology has been recognized as a discipline and its evolution towards new fields of research reflect on the vivid and unlimited imagination, which characterizes our field.

From a more general standpoint, audio-visual studies are deeply concerned with the globalization process, not just from a technical point of view, but also with regard to conflicts, ethics and individual or collective identities.

Since the world economic and political situation has a direct influence on our approach to our field of research, we propose collaborations with communities based on emergent forms of communication and interactions with the community (blogs, social networking sites, etc). The diversity and the multicultural aspects of the societies we work with, require a close re-examination of the audio-visual means used to represent multi-ethnic identities and innovative strands to refresh the representation process we are usually involved with.

Paradoxically, the flow of pictures and sounds produced on computers, mobile phones and GPS and distributed on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc. while trivializing the uses of audiovisual messages, simultaneously inspires the creation of new forms of enquiry, collective data sharing, collaborative methodologies and also the circulation of new tools of communication and representation using open source software.

We are looking for papers that reflect on how the present economic, political, ethical and technical crisis have shaped and influenced visual anthropology, our discipline. We would also be interested in papers that address the way visual anthropology, by introducing imaginative and innovative strategies to properly render the complexity of political, economical and cultural exchanges, are actively challenging the boundaries of our discipline.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Negotiating social change: visual anthropology and education

Author: Alex Vailati (Federal University of Pernambuco)  email
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Long Abstract

It is stated that visual anthropology, compared to the written one, was pioneer as regards the observation of the relationship between observer and observed. In this lecture, I am going to emphasize another important outcome of this relationship. The researcher, in many visual anthropology research projects, is considerable as an "active member" of the society he is studying.

The research I am presenting was conducted in rural KwaZulu-Natal, Republic of South Africa. Here, I worked with a group of young people teaching them how to realize a video. The results underline the relationship between desire of modernity and strategy of video-production. Moreover, I am going to demonstrate that educational projects can find, in collaborative visual anthropology approach, a medium to understand, negotiate and also re-address the social change that projects can produce.

Visual representations of crises after post-election periods in Iran: Facebook, Twitter, You Tube

Author: Pedram Khosronejad (Oklahoma State University)  email
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Long Abstract

In this paper I am interested in understanding the role of the digital and cyber world in the post-election movements in Iran, particularly, the processes of image transference and its resulting forms of visualizing crisis (Death of Neda Agha-Soltan), both in the country and abroad. The post-election frenzy also pushed me to think about the importance of digital media in the transference and recreation of information in other 'untouchable' or conflict-ridden areas of the world (Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen), and its role in the production of knowledge on war, martyrdom and trauma.

'Participatory video' as means of reflection and self-reflection upon image and identity of reemerging indigenous groups of northeastern Brazil

Author: Peter Anton Zoettl (CRIA-UM, Portugal)  email
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Long Abstract

Crises and change have affected the Brazilian indigenous population for more than 500 years. While for centuries their struggle against colonialism and the dominant national society had resulted in an ever shrinking population, the last decades have seen an unexpected phenomenon: the rise of "new" indigenous tribes in areas which, by the state and public opinion, were long considered as "acculturated". These "reemerging" Indians, in their pursuit of both legal and actual recognition by authorities and their fellow Non-Indian citizens, face and undergo a peculiar re-elaboration of their "image" as Indians, being torn between romantic ideas of indianity, and the demands of full integration within the national society. Drawing on recent fieldwork experience in northeastern Brazil, the paper discusses how the visual-anthropological method of "participatory" or "community" video can be used as a means of reflecting on, and catalyzing, processes of individual and group identity formation of minority groups within a local-global context.

Towards the Ethnography of Filmic Space: Engaging with the Trans-national Imaginary of a Mexican Migrant Community Through Event Video

Author: Rebecca Savage (University of Westminster)  email
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Long Abstract

In Tlaxcala, Mexico, families are routinely divided as parents leave young children to go north in search of work. Event videos allow migrant parents to watch their children growing up, involved in lavish celebrations, and digitally placed in utopian landscapes. This paper conceptualizes the role of event videos in creating a filmic space, within which the members of physically divided families, experience, idealized and performed versions of each other and themselves.

This space challenges the epistemological and methodological approaches of visual anthropology, and its investigation necessitates the improvisation of novel methodological and formal approaches. This paper will describe the way in which close collaborative involvement in the production and consumption of event videos, and their incorporation as 'found footage' in an assemblage video, '900,00 frames between us' enables the exploration and evocation of this space and it's complex links to memory, imagination and lived experience; an ethnography of filmic space.

On the road with Maruch: the promises and limits of open, non-linear hypermedia documents in anthropological work after the crisis of representation and Web2.0

Author: Florian Walter (Freie Universität Berlin)  email
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Long Abstract

In the context of the crisis of representation and of the Global Theater some important assertions on the poetics and politics of our discipline were made. My hypermedia-research project examines the possibilities and limits of anthropological representations in post-colonial and post-digital times. I argue that Web2.0-technologies offer fresh perspectives on reflexivity, collaboration, emancipated forms of communication, and the artistic mediation of cultural aesthetics.

By showing parts of my PhD-project I want to illustrate that a polyphonic hypermedia-document, which treats text and audiovisual data as equally important, offers open and collaborative working- and reading-flows on ethnographic data obtained through traditionally conducted fieldwork and this could finally free the anthropologist from the burden of a hermes-like mediator (e.g. by implementing multiple authorship, blogs, or waves).

In order to capture processes of transcultural communication, I seek to create a non-linear, experimental document, which takes monatagescapes as dynamic vehicles of artistic reflection on the complexities of intercultural dialogue and of multisensorial and synaesthetic modes of perception.

Individual fun can't equal collective one: digital visions and auto-representations on Chinese web

Author: Sara Beretta (Università Bicocca Milano Italy)  email
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Long Abstract

In this paper I will analyze e gao, a vast and diversified category that includes satirical and auto-ironic short digital videos, which pick on daily life and shared symbols, but that mock the authority too. As a phenomenon, they are not limited to the Chinese context but here peculiar for hugeness and political implications. They are distributed on social networking sites just to have fun and relax, generally in the urban context: in the new pop(ular) culture where entertainment is the core, they are one of the tastier ingredients.

E gao are characterized by auto-reflexive and auto-ironic self-representation, they generate virtual relationships and collective identities.

I will explore the imaginative dimension and its implication in Chinese urban context, trying to read the fiction practice, and to go in depth into the discursive practices and into the relationships implied in videos productions and fruition in the online public sphere.

Complexity and hybridity in moving pictures as a challenge for Visual Anthropology

Author: Vanessa Marlog (Munich University)  email
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Long Abstract

When we see pictures like those from the Neda-video, we do not ask whether they are "true", but whether they touch us and give an idea of what reality is like. The importance of the narrative potential of pictures and their political expression is growing. Boundaries between politics, science and entertainment are fluent. Filmmaking itself is challenged by a strange phenomenon: It has to be authentic and to set itself apart from the masses of documents. By using the most recent of cinematographic innovations, by telling a spectacular story or by being art. Cinema seems to be finding a new liberty in genres. Fictional elements and digital media are used to document realities and experiences. Working with specific film examples like "Waltz with Bashir", I will highlight the hybridity in filmmaking with which we have to deal today, and discuss its relevance for Visual Anthropology.

Imagination through disturbance? A story about web-emergent communities

Author: Alexander Schwinghammer (Bauhaus University Weimar)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper explores creative acts emerging out of digital environments that are commonly linked to game culture.

Acts of creation within the media sphere that expand, transform and re-design medial formats are increasingly gaining prominence outside and inside the professionalized cultural industry. These developments are not only closely linked to terms such as network society or WEB 2.0, it especially led to particular emergent societal forms that can be described as "communities of projects".

With reference to the performative engagement of the participants brings up the notions of immersion and interaction as central terms for researching actions at the boundary of prefigured and appropriative behaviour. Aiming to investigate a specific type of a community of project that emerges from ludic but nevertheless committed engagements with set object patterns, this paper focuses on creative behaviour and group formations that take place within situations of intermedial and/or pervasive gaming.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.