Special Events

Image as Method: Ethnography – Photography – Film – Sensation – Perception

Monday, The Heyman Center, and The Schapiro Center, Davis Auditorium

Locations and dates:

May 4: Heyman Center for the Humanities

May 5: The Schapiro Center, Davis Auditorium

"Image as Method: Ethnography – Photography – Film – Sensation – Perception"  is a two-day symposia presented by the Society of Fellows in the Humanities.The symposia is organized by Fellow Brian Goldstone, Lecturer in Anthropology.

While recent years have seen an opening up within anthropology of the limits and potentialities of ethnographic description, with increasing use being made of photographic and filmic images in particular, considerably less attention has been paid to the question of whether images, broadly conceived, might present not just a supplementary means of conveying ethnographic insights, but a radically different way of imagining and arriving at them.  What would an imagistic – as opposed to a more conventionally discursive or didactic – anthropological mode of knowing necessitate?  What forms might this take, and what kinds of worlds – of sensation and memory, perception and experience – might it open onto?  This two-day symposium brings together a select group of scholars, writers, and artists whose work lies at the forefront of attempts to address such questions.  Affirming the observation of art historian Hans Belting that “at a fundamental level we must address the image not only as a product of a given medium, be it photography, painting, or video, but also as a product of our selves, for we generate images of our own (dreams, imaginings, personal perceptions) that we play out against other images in the visible world,” this event seeks to set ethnography on a terrain whereby empiricism, storytelling, fiction, autobiography, dream, even hallucination blur uneasily into one another. 

Read coverage of the 'Image as Method' symposium in Somatosphere.

Comprising five panels on two consecutive evenings, and including a photography exhibition and film screening, this symposium is an attempt to explore and elaborate on the possibility that, as anthropologist Lisa Stevenson puts it, what gives images their distinctive power is their capacity to “express without formulating” – their tendency, in other words, to “drag the world along with them.”

The opening reception for the photography exhibition, "Photos in My Lost Hours," with images by Robert Desjarlais, will be held May 4 at 7:15pm in the Heyman Center lobby. For more work by Robert Desjarlais, visit his website.