Engaged visual anthropology
Federico De Musso (McGill University)
Paper short abstract:
Based on my research with The Network of Solidarity Economy of the Italian South (RESSUD) I argue that visual anthropology can help building a deep engagement between methods and aims of anthropologists and informants in an activist context.
Paper long abstract:
Based on my research with The Network of Solidarity Economy of the Italian South (RESSUD) I argue that visual anthropology can help building a deep engagement between methods and aims of anthropologists and the informants in an activist context. RESSUD is an association of farmers and food activists that promotes sustainable short supply chains for agricultural products. Among their goals is to facilitate "coproduction", a system of crowd funding for food products based on mutual trust between groups of buyers and producers. This type of provisioning is practiced as a way to escape the disrupting effects of neoliberal supply chain and create a socially and environmentally sustainable mode of consumption. The coproduction of the documentary L'Altra Faccia dell'Arancia (The other side of the orange), that narrates RESSUD's endeavours, sheds new light on the ways to engage with the informants and their agency in anthropology. By stressing the cross-fertilising effects between the practice investigated, the investigative method itself, and the results of the fieldwork, I will discuss how the researcher and the activists' ends benefitted and hindered each other. The coproduction of the film helped RESSUD to be visible beyond its limited borders at the same time in which it allowed the anthropological research to take place. Specifically, I use the notion of "coproduction" to understand the common ground for the education and trust that is produced in the relationship between producers and consumers and between anthropologist and informants in the making of both network and film.
Engaged anthropology: Reality? Necessity? Utopia?