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Fieldwork Photography as Anthropological Practice

Author Michèle DICK
Director of thesis Prof. Dr. Mareile Flitsch, University of Zurich
Co-director of thesis Dr. Kelley Wilder, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK
Summary of thesis

Photography has become a commonly used medium in anthropological field research. Technological innovations throughout the 20th century have led to smaller, lighter and easily manageable cameras, making photography available for an even wider audience of amateur photographers and social anthropologists. While private and public photographic archives resulting out of anthropological fieldwork have grown considerably in the last decades, only little is known about the character of these photographs and their role within and impact on their taker`s research.

This PhD aims at re-locating fieldwork photography as part of social anthropological research practices. Being theorized as a technologically regulated, socially constructed and paradigmatically shaped visual engagement with the ethnographer`s surrounding, photography qualifies as an integral part of the ethnographer`s observational practices and the subsequent formation of ethnographic knowledge. Focusing on the photographic archival collection of Swiss anthropologist Florence Weiss and the photographs she took with her Leica and her Minolta in Papua New Guinea between 1972 and 1974, this PhD unravels the multiple impacts of photography on the production of ethnographic and ethnological knowledge. Arguing that the photographic archive not only represents ethnographic knowledge visually but preserves visual aspects of the ethnographic encounter and the ethnographers “multisensorial placemaking processes“ (Pink 2009), this PhD further seeks to reconstruct photography as a embodied practice and as part of the production of anthropological knowledge.

Status finished
Administrative delay for the defence 2020