CFP – Material subjectivities and artistic expression in visual anthropology

Call for Papers

Material subjectivities and artistic expression in visual anthropology

Please consider submitting a paper proposal to the following panel organised by Royal Anthropological Institute and SOAS, UK on “Art, Materiality and Representation”.

Deadline for proposals: 08 January 2018

Short abstract
Radical artistic expression in visual anthropology holds the potential to develop visual ethnographic representations beyond the paradigm of voyeur/exotic ‘other’. Can artistic expression, digital technologies, participatory visual methods intertwine and further decolonise visual anthropology.

Long abstract
This panel considers how respecting the diverse material subjectivities of those we research with in visual ethnographic representations can coincide with radical artistic expression from an anthropological perspective. The visual anthropologist as ‘voyeur’ and ‘medium’, ready to exoticise an ‘other’, has gradually been replaced by the understanding that the images we create are representations of other worlds, seen through the “ethnographer’s eye”. A re-thinking of visual anthropology’s methods emerged in response to critique of the ethnographer’s control over the image and its narrative. This coincided with the emergence of visual media technologies that were portable, inexpensive and accessible, such as mobile phone cameras. The accompanying participatory visual methods have also been key in moves to de-colonise anthropology through ethnographic practice. Both are critical to the exploration of artistic forms of expression. They create new subjectivities, as the distinction between filmmaker/photographer/anthropologist and the ‘subject’ blur. New technologies and methods that take the camera out of the hands of the anthropologist also promise to dismantle the point-and-shoot paradigm as the ethnographer too is drawn into the image and captured ‘in action’. This panel explores these changes in visual anthropology and examines the material practices through which a de-colonialised, participatory visual anthropology emerges. It raises the potential opportunities for anthropologists and those we research with, to develop new narrative forms and artistic expressions. The question is, can visual anthropology transition further into art while maintaining a consideration for culturally distinct, emic alternatives to established modes of ethnographic visual storytelling?

The Art, Materiality and Representation conference will be held 1 to 3 June 2018 at the British Museum, Clore Centre and SOAS, Senate House.

All proposals must be made via the online form that can be found on each panel page.

Proposals should consist of a paper title, a (very) short abstract of <300 characters and an abstract of 250 words.  On submission the proposal, the proposing author (but not any co-authors listed) will receive automated email confirming receipt. If you do not receive this email, please first check the login environment (click login on the left on the conference website) to see if your proposal is there.  If it is, it simply means confirmation got spammed or lost; and if it is not, it means you need re-submit, as process went wrong somewhere.

Other useful information for after you’ve proposed your paper
While the call is open, paper authors can use the login link in the menu on the left to edit their proposals. Co-authors cannot be added/removed nor can papers be withdrawn through this environment – please email to do this.

Notifications of acceptance are estimated to be complete by late February 2018.



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