In her 2005 review essay “An Excess of Description: Ethnography, Race, and Visual Technologies,” Deborah Poole argues that rather than solely emphasizing the reifying and objectifying functions of photography, anthropologists should attend to how the medium, alongside ethnography, has the capacity to “unsettle accounts of the world” (160). Advocating a return to early anthropologists' "productive forms of suspicion," Poole situates photographs and other means of visual encounter and evaluation in streams of practice. Italian anthropologist Christina Grasseni similarly joins visual anthropology and anthropologies of practice and the senses to decouple image-making from vision-making. She argues that to move past or at least reframe the critique of occularcentrism in anthropology one must pluralize and recognize the shared and situated nature of visions as enskilled senses, skilled capacities, and forms of practice (2009: 5-6). "Skilled visions," she writes, "are the result of concrete processes of education of attention, within situated practices and ecologies of culture that are at the same time 'vulnerable, unruly, and evanescent as well as contested, collective and distributed'" (7).
This panel seeks to explore such skilled visions and their excesses by asking how individuals, communities, and institutions animate and complicate our understanding of the fixity of photographic representation in multiple evidentiary modes. From the juridical, scientific, and commercial to the historical, personal, and political, what does it mean to demonstrate evidence through photographic images? Analyzing these practices not as overdetermined sites of inscription but as spaces of possibility, contingency, and surprise, we seek papers that explore ways of ethnographically analyzing ruptures in ways of seeing and knowing. We welcome papers that show how highly contested, morally implicated, and potentially transformative photographic traces are used to challenge, reinforce, and alter modes of creating and circulating evidence.
Please send abstracts (250 words) for 15-minute papers and a brief bio or cv to Stephanie Sadre-Orafai (sadreose[at]ucmail[dot]uc[dot]edu) and Lee Douglas (lee.douglas[at]nyu[dot]edu) by Tuesday, April 12, 2011. All accepted presenters must join AAA and register by April 15, 2010.
Department of Anthropology
University of Cincinnati Email: email@example.com
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