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BSocSc Social Anthropology

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Anthropology of Art, Sound and Images

Unit code SOAN10090
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Full year
Offered by School of Social Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

Manchester University is at the forefront of Visual Anthropology, with research carried out in ethnographic film, photography, sound and mixed media at the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology. Art, Sound and Images: an Introduction to Visual Anthropology will expand undergraduate access to this area of expertise by giving first-year students an introduction to four areas of study and practice in Visual Anthropology: art, photography, sound and film. Combining theory and practice, we will explore key insights visual anthropologists have developed to generate anthropological knowledge beyond conventional textual analysis and written ethnographic. The module will spark students to creatively engage with social and cultural phenomenon through a series of guided practical exercises for each area. The aim is to provide students with intellectual and practical tools to explore the intersection between anthropology and non-textual means of approaching and understanding the world. Hence, in addition to using anthropology to enquiring about cultural audiovisual production, students will be stimulated to use art and audiovisual means as ways of understanding the social world anthropologically.

Pre/co-requisites

Compulsory for BSocSc Social Anthropology - Level One

Aims

Manchester University is at the forefront of Visual Anthropology, with research carried out in ethnographic film, photography, sound and mixed media at the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology. Art, Sound and Images: an Introduction to Visual Anthropology will expand undergraduate access to this area of expertise by giving first-year students an introduction to four areas of study and practice in Visual Anthropology: art, photography, sound and film. Combining theory and practice, we will explore key insights visual anthropologists have developed to generate anthropological knowledge beyond conventional textual analysis and written ethnographic. The module will spark students to creatively engage with social and cultural phenomenon through a series of guided practical exercises for each area. The aim is to provide students with intellectual and practical tools to explore the intersection between anthropology and non-textual means of approaching and understanding the world. Hence, in addition to using anthropology to enquiring about cultural audiovisual production, students will be stimulated to use art and audiovisual means as ways of understanding the social world anthropologically.

The course has three inter-related aims:

Provide an understanding of the main developments in the discipline of visual anthropology.Introduce to some of the key intellectual and ethical debates that have shaped visual anthropology critique and practice.

Give students the opportunity to use art and audiovisual media anthropologically to explore anthropological topics.

Syllabus

 

Block 1: The art of anthropology, the anthropology of art (Andrew Irving)

The first lectures in this block will provide an overview of visual anthropology and explain how the module will bring together the four areas of art, photography, sound, and film, keeping in mind concerns with ethics of production and politics of representation. This will be followed by an introduction to the field of the anthropology of art, with particular attention the main discussions anthropologists and artists have developed when collaborating in ethnographic projects. We will also explore and how anthropology can use art to understand social reality and create anthropological outputs.

There will be a practice-based workshop that will ask students to think about art as a means to engage with anthropological topics (exact format tbc).

 

Block 2: Photography and Anthropology (Lorenzo Ferrarini)

This block will ask you to think critically about making and interpreting photographs. We will reflect on how pairings with text, or the contexts of production and consumption influence the reading of images. We will also look at the relationship between photographic practices and practices of power, with examples from anthropology, contemporary photojournalism and art. We will then take this knowledge and apply it to photo-ethnography, that is, the use of photography to gather and present anthropological insights. The block will provide basic practical skills and weekly exercises to enable students to create a final photo-essay.

 

 

Block 3: Sounds and Soundscapes

This block of the course will explore the phenomenon of sound as a perception of space and place, materials and technologies and social and embodied relations. It will focus on anthropological perspectives to sound but also cover some related historical, technological and artistic fields, critiquing some ways in which sound and hearing have been constructed as objects of knowledge outside the behavioral sciences.  It will engage in a series of practical exercises to address the following questions: what does it mean to study sound ? What are the possible relationships between the auditory capacities for speech and hearing and modes of social and cultural organization?   Is it possible to invoke a conceptualization of sound apart from a conceptualization of linguistic and musical sense?  The purpose is firstly to think more attentively and critically about sound as an aspect of your environment, as a medium for making sense of the world and as a necessary and creative resource for communication. The purpose is also to bring you into a new sensory engagement with sound by listening to recordings that are made so as to convey particular forms of knowledge and taking that critical listening practice into a variety of applications. 

This block will include access to videoed instructions on sound recording using smartphones.

 

 

Block 4: Ethnographic films/videos and anthropological knowledge

This part of the module will explore how ethnographic filmmaking constitutes a mode of attention to the world that opens up a series of possibilities of producing and conveying anthropological knowledge. We will look at a set of examples on the use of film/video to engage with a variety of themes in anthropology and inquire into the effectiveness of the ways in which they have converged anthropology and moving images.

This block will also give students basic guidelines on how to record short ethnographic oriented videos in your phone and use Adobe Spark for editing.

Teaching and learning methods

 

This module is team-taught in four blocks of five weeks each (art, photography, sound, film). The order of the blocks is flexible in order to accommodate departmental teaching requirements and periods of research leave. Each week will have a two-hour session consisting of lectures, group discussions and other practice-based tasks as set by course giver; and weekly seminars/tutorials (tutorial groups of no more than 12 students who will be working in groups of 3) where students will discuss readings and receive feedback on their practice-based exercises from GTAs.

 

Students will work in groups of 3, using their own smartphones to create at least one audio-visual exercise for each block; a minimum of four exercises throughout the course. The media created will be edited in a user-friendly web platform (i.e. Adobe Spark) and submitted to Blackboard.

Intellectual skills

 

Gain an introductory knowledge of the main debates on the use of media in anthropology.

Critically evaluate photographs, films and sound recordings reflecting on the conditions of productions.

Gain insight into key debates on authorship and ethics.

Understand the specific contributions that audiovisual media can bring to anthropology.

Practical skills

 

Learn the basics of still photography, sound recording and video making.

Plan a small project and justify the choice of media in the light of the research question.

Design and realise a web-based “multimedia essay” through an intuitive drag-and- drop interface.

Write in complementary way to the audiovisual components of a multimedia essay.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

 

Make critical use of a variety of media sources within and outside anthropology.

Present arguments effectively with the support of a variety of media, and in a format that is easily shared online.

Collaborate effectively in small groups.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 100%

Feedback methods

 Formative assessment:

  • Some practice-based exercise across the two blocks in each semester, with a minimum of four exercises through semesters 1 and 2. Students will work in groups as ‘social bubbles’, using their own smartphones to share material outside of classroom hours to make or record art and audiovisual material, which they will edit in a web platform (Adobe Spark). Provision of a small compact camera will be made for those students who do not own a smartphone. The work in groups (social bubbles) is contingent on Covid-19 restrictions.

Feedback on formative exercises will be provided during tutorials. Tutors (GTAs) and lecturers will select a sample to be discussed during lectures.

Summative assessment:

  • At the end of each block, students will submit 1 x multimedia essay composed of one 1000 words essay and aural or visual materials, worth 100% of the mark. The textual and aural or visual components of the essay are given equal weighting in the process of marking. A total of 4 multimedia essays, 2 per semester.
  • Contingent on the safety measures regarding Covid-19, students will use their own smartphones or other kids of audio-video recording devices to make or record art and audiovisual material, which they will edit in a web platform (Adobe Spark). Provision of a small compact camera will be made for those students who do not own a smartphone.
  • The media criteria are as follows: artworks (between 1 and 12), photographs (minimum 10, maximum 20), a sound work (for recordings a minimum length of 5 minutes and maximum of 10 minutes), and for a video (around 5 minutes).

 The material will be edited and presented in Adobe Spark, or an alternative platform.

The 1500-word essay will be conceived and written individually, and submitted to Turnitin.

Feedback on summative assessment will be provided individually through Turnitin/Blackboard

Recommended reading

 

  • Bell, Joshua A. 2003. "Looking to See: Reflections on Visual Repatriation in the Purari Delta, Gulf Province, Papua New Guinea." in Museums and Source Communities: A Routledge Reader, edited by Peers, Laura and Brown, Alison., 111–121. London: Routledge Press.
  • Bradley, J., P. Adgemis & L. Haralampou. 2014. “Why Can't They Put Their Names?”: Colonial Photography, Repatriation and Social Memory, History and Anthropology, 25:1, 47- 71,
  • Buckley, Liam. 2014. “Photography and Photo-Elicitation After Colonialism”. Cultural Anthropology 29 (4):720-43.
  • Cox, Rupert A., Andrew Irving, and Christopher Wright, 2016. Beyond Text: Critical Practice and Sensory Anthropology. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  • Cox, Rupert. 2018. ‘Anthropology of Sound’. In Anthropology Beyond Text, 1–5. The International Encyclopedia of Anthropology. New York: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Ferrarini, Lorenzo. 2020. ‘Photographing as an anthropologist. Notes on developing a photo ethnographic practice in Basilicata’. In Sonic Ethnography: identity, heritage and creative research practice in Basilicata, southern Italy. Manchester: Manchester University Press (forthcoming).
  • Herzfeld, M. 2001 Anthropology: Theoretical Practice in Culture and Society Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.
  • Pink, S. 2011. Multimodality, Multisensoriality and Ethnographic Knowing: Social Semiotics and the Phenomenology of Perception. Qualitative Research 11, no. 3: 261-276
  • Pink, Sarah. 2015. Doing sensory ethnography. London: Sage.
  • Rice, T. 2003. Soundselves: An Acoustemology of sound and self in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Anthropology Today. 19: 4-9.
  • Schafer, R. Murray. 1994. The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World. Destiny Books (First edition, Knopf, 1977), 3-12.
  • Stoller, P. 1984. Sound in Songhay Cultural Experience. American Ethnologist, Vol. 11, No. 3. (Aug., 1984), pp. 559-570.

Torresan, A. 2018. Guto and Graça: Ethnographic Film and Storytelling. Visual Anthropology From Latin America, Special Issue in Anthrovision, 6(2): online.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 40
Tutorials 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 140

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Angela Torresan Unit coordinator
Rupert Cox Unit coordinator
Andrew Irving Unit coordinator
Lorenzo Ferrarini Unit coordinator

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