Evolving humanity, emerging worlds

Manchester, UK; 5th-10th August 2013

(V06)

Photography as a research method

Location Chemistry G.53
Date and Start Time 06 Aug, 2013 at 09:00

Convenor

Marcel Reyes-Cortez (Goldsmiths) email
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Short Abstract

Currently we have noticed a greater awareness and acceptance both in the use of photographs and the practice of photography in all areas of academic disciplines. This panel aims at providing an overview of the different forms and practices were photography has been used as a social research method.

Long Abstract

This panel will consider and discuss the practice and use of photography as a social research method. Photography as an art form in collaboration with the social sciences, fused as a hybrid practice; a methodology to both explore and to engage with the phenomena of the everyday and the social world.

In current academic research photography and the use of photographs have opened the possibility for a detailed level of engagement with the spaces, places and people researchers visit and encounter. Through this panel we aim to explore how the ubiquitous photograph becomes a knowledge making practice. Photography with it's sensorial and performative qualities opens interaction, creates and cultivates relationships with people. Photography as a methodology has been found to stimulate and incite the emotions that bind people together. The panel will look at how the practice of photography and use of photographs can open spaces and encounters of collaboration, speed the entry into the field, assisting the researcher, our participants and viewer a closer and emotive field experience. The collaboration between social research and art practice, between the image and the text provides a space to voice the opinion, feelings and emotions of people, giving greater sensitivity and richness to an ethnography but also for knowledge dissemination and analyses. We invite papers that attempt to engage with photography beyond the observational, illustrative or as a source or a form of representation.

Chair: Evangelia Katsaiti

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Performing loss and longing through album photographs in my bereaved family, an auto ethnographic case study

Author: Evangelia Katsaiti (Nottingham Trent University)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper will consider the use of photography as a ‘featherweight portable museum’ (Sontag 1977) by my family, in order to mediate loss and thus adjust and cope with bereavement. The photographic work ‘Dedicated to’ is a photographic art project that consists of 5 sequences of photographic narratives visually relating my devastating emotions from five losses of loved ones. While speaking my story of loss of my father I will aim to make gender politics visible and narrate my process of renegotiation through my art photography of the language that inscribes my memory. The point of this analysis is to disseminate through the lens of personal experience any possible links between culture and self.

Long Abstract

My home town, Perama , is a city that evolves around the industry of traveling and transport in which the family album is often used significantly to remember and communicate the past as well as define an emotional space signifying stability.

The photographic narratives I have assembled into art photography assisted me to articulate and express visually my grief for the death of my father. I will decode visual language rituals involving stereotype family photographs used to externalize feelings of intimacy, and thus assert the connection of the expression of the personal with the political. Walkerdine clarifies of how self-disclosure in auto ethnography is intended to be a way of understanding subjectivity, and that is when "the confessional becomes reactionary". (Walkerdine 1997). Self-directed art photography mediated the reconstruction of the preferred stories sought by me, and thus affected the emotional and cultural landscape of grieving within my family, from which I have been reciprocally influenced. The language of the family photograph as an artefact seriously infested what I choose to remember or forget as well what I chose to be through what I remember. My art photography as a research tool challenged the language that inscribes my memory allowing me through the renegotiating of my relationship with the power struggles intermitted to photography to redefine myself through new enabling identities.

Image Repatriation and Research with Old Photographs: Experiences from Two Projects in Thailand and Micronesia

Author: Rolf Husmann (University of Göttingen)  email
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Short Abstract

In two projects in Thailand and Kiribati/Micronesia, the author used image repatriation as a feedback methodology of obtaining ethnographic data. Old films and photographs were returned to the societies in which they were originally shot. The paper concentrates on discussing the methodological advantages and disadvantages of photography over film.

Long Abstract

From 2008 until 2011, the author carried out a research project in northern Thailand, in the course of which some 50 old ethnographic films from the 1960s were repatriated to archives in Thailand, but also to the Akha and Hmong villages in which they were originally shot. Together with the films old photographs were also used and returned to the people portrayed half a century ago or their children. Following the success of that project, a very similar one was carried out in 2010 and 2011, in which the author repatriated films and photographs to Kiribati/Micronesia. Together with oceanist Wolfgang Kempf, both photographs and films were used to retrieve feedback information about culture change from the 1960s to the present. The paper describes both projects and their visual anthropological methodology and concentrates on an analysis of the photographic parts, discussing the advantages and disadvantages of the two media in comparison.

Frontline: A Photo-Ethnography of Drug Using Environments

Author: Stephen Parkin (University of Huddersfield)  email
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Short Abstract

This exhibition will provide an understanding of a particular health inequality (and related social suffering)concerning the appropriation of public places for the purpose of injecting drug use, alongside an appreciation of the applied nature of visual methods.

Long Abstract

This proposed photographic exhibition concerns the topic of injecting drug use and the environments used for the injection of heroin and crack-cocaine. This exhibition has emerged from over 5 years of ethnographic fieldwork conducted by the photographer/author as part of three separate studies of street-based injecting drug use located throughout the UK. These studies have involved visits to almost 200 public settings affected by injecting episodes and/or drug-related litter in addition to interviews/attachment with 72 injecting drug users and 170 agency representatives.

The exhibition consists of selected images taken during ethnographic data collection within drug using environments. An estimated 100 photographs will be used to provide a 'photo-ethnography' of injecting drug use in street-based settings. These images will be organised into three themes; place, litter and management.

The exhibition aims to provide a meaningful insight into the lives of some of society's most vulnerable members. Individuals who resort to injecting within public settings are typically homeless with long term dependency issues and entrenched injecting lifestyles. This exhibition does not aim to glorify or demonise injecting drug use/rs, but instead portray the environmental settings of drug dependency and homelessness. However, the exhibition is primarily an attempt to raise awareness of the harms associated with public injecting drug use via visual media. A further aim is to demonstrate the way in which applied visual methods may provide service relevant data that have the potential to motivate development and/or intervention within local settings.

'It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of wor(l)ds'

Author: Myrto Tsilimpounidi (University of East London)  email
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Short Abstract

Performance/ Presentation using photography:

An anarchic conversation between a visual/urban sociologist and a theatre maker and performance studies scholar.

Long Abstract

The singular compelling imagery of 'occupying' as a form of resistance is its multiplicity of voices - the collective mobilisation of the 'multitude'. Yet, the force and urgency of a collective resistance lies in the individual untold stories of its proponents. Rather than glorify the movement as a faceless entity, the paper/performance embraces the daily stories, struggles and wounds of occupation, by using photographs.

Resistant performances in Athens have gathered momentum over the last year, transforming the fixed landscape of a city into a platform for negotiation and dialogue. The research relies on entering the city through photographs in order to explore crisis, and new ways of being in the world. Documenting social change is highly subjective, and in this presentation the photographs perform, and resist singular interpretations.

In the performance/presentation, photographs of Athens interject, enact, and embody the troubled city. The images 'do something' - they form a third interlocutor in the dialogue about how change is visualised and realised in urban spaces. We are arguing that resistance is a space of radical openness, in which the self is re-imagined in relation to its landscape - and in turn, the landscape is remapped.

The concept of 'occupying' in resistance movements is performative, embodied and affective. It involves ideas and feelings, sounds, smells and words. Thus, this presentation format is that of a dialogue/ performance as the presenters attempt to resist discursive borders of social science and the arts by occupying both.

Mapping Berlin: Memories in the Present Moment

Author: Holly Gilbert (The British Library)  email
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Short Abstract

Photography is inextricably linked with loss and memory. The moment captured in a photograph is over as soon as the shutter closes and the enduring picture reminds us of this. My visual project uses photography to investigate how memories of the past can impact on our experience of the present.

Long Abstract

Photography is inextricably linked with memory, a photograph freezes a moment in time and holds it in an eternal present. The quality of photography as a trace of reality makes it a particularly good medium to mediate the relationship between memories of trauma and the generations that follow, according to theories of postmemory.

In this paper I will discuss my use of photography as a method of examining how I relate to my ninety-one-year-old grandmother's childhood memories of Berlin before she was forced to leave as a Jewish teenager in 1933. My autoethnographic research uses photography as a visual methodology to investigate what happens to memories as they are passed down the generations, in particular how they affect my own relationship with the city space of Berlin in the present. Walking around the city listening to recordings of our conversations about the time my grandmother spent in Berlin allowed me to immerse myself in its past while seeing its present through the lens of my camera.

Being aware of the powerful relationship between photography and memory, as a photographic practitioner I am using photography in a conscious way to confront the experiences of my own family members in the past. I hope to make visible by my photographic acts my relationship with past events of the city of Berlin and the individual and collective memories that haunt it.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

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