Thursday, 4 April 2013

Program for Literature discussion 9. - 10.4.


A sketch of a program for discussing literature you have read. Note: do not prepare cool performances, this is truly about discussing literature on your topics and methods.

1. Please give an idea what the book/article you have read was about.
2. Identify basic concepts or conceptual settings.
3. And think what concept/setting is meaningful for your research and topic, and how.

Some people have read the same texts. One student/team will present the text, but other(s) please engage in a dialog and comment, add your own thoughts and insights and what concept/setting is meaningful to you and how. Everybody please make questions and participate!

I am not 100% sure you have read the texts you named, or those I suggested. This program is also a suggestion, please let me know if I am making it under false assumptions… I am drafting a pretty tight schedule, so that everybody will have opportunity to talk about some text, and that we can cover the most important topics.

The main point is to discuss literature, and to get a view how to use it in the research. I am concentrating on the conceptual and topic-related literature, but please bring out also questions pertaining to method in the discussions.




Tuesday 9.4.

10.15 – 11.30 Holy places: ancient holy places, Aurajoki, hospitals – what is holy.
Durkheim: Heta presents, Hanna comments.
Eliade: Satu presents, Henna comments
Topic-literature on Holy place: Suomenlinna: Susanna presents

11.45 – 13.00 Rituals: Smoking, garden plot gardening, walking dogs
Smith: Suvi presents, IP comments
Douglas: IP presents
Topic-literature on walking dogs and rituals: Opri presents

Wednesday 10.4.

10.15 Р11.30 Rituals: Pitkäsilta, MC gangs, pubs, grills
Boundaries: Neea
MC gangs and rituals: Johanna & Johanna
Pubs and rituals: Marta presents, Corey comments

11.45 – 13.00 Holy things: Museums, Holy child, used things
Strong: Gerardo presents, Juste & Teie comment
Visual narrations: Raila presents
Used things and what is sacred about them, Juste & Teie


Monday, 11 March 2013

Course program

5.3. What is anthropology, what is visual anthropology.
6.3. The sacred

14.3. Mailis Saralehto will talk about and show her work on hidden and lost graveyards in Turku, Pori, Paris and Amsterdam.

9. and 10.4. Discussion on literature, based on everybody having read two: one about their topic, one about their visual approach. See instructions

24.4. Visual research reports. See instructions about the research

Literature assignment

9. - 10.4. we will go through literature on the topic and visual approach everybody have chosen. For this you will need to:

1. Choose one article/ book that discusses the topic you have chosen - rituals, ghosts, sacred places etc.
2. Choose one article/ book that discusses the research approach you have chosen - use of video, use of photos, looking at urban space etc.

Please send me your choices by email (trajanti(at)gmail.com) by 18.3. I will draft a program for discussions after I get your suggestions.

3. Read the articles. Make notes.

4. For discussion think about these issues

a. topic articles:
- how does the article see the topic?
- what kind of concepts or conceptual settings are used?
- how does it connect the phenomenon with the beliefs and meanings people give it?
- if it involved an ethnographic research, how was that conducted? or, to what kind of ethnographic data does it refer to?
- do you feel you can apply the approach and the points in your own research?

b. research approach articles:
- what perspective does the article present on visual anthropology?
- what visual domain is it focusing on?
- what kind of approach does it have as its focus?
- what kind of concepts or conceptual settings are used?
- do you feel you get hints and tips you can apply in your own research?

Anthropological research assignment

The core idea of the course is for the students to do an anthropological research, about the topic of urban phantasmagory, with a visual anthropology approach. 
Please send me a preliminary draft version of your plan containing at least what is your topic, and what kind of visual anthropology approach you intend to use latest 18.3. (if you cannot already name those 14.3.)

Few basic things:

Anthropology

1. Anthropological research is first and foremost ethnographic study, based on first hand contact with people connected to the phenomenon you want to study. This means you need to do field-work: interview people, make observations, collect documents by yourselves. Even if the data you go for would be e.g. websites with pictures, I strongly encourage you to find a way how to immerse yourselves in the locations, how to get a feel of the thing yourselves.

2. Anthropologists rarely move in bigger troupes than pairs, so this assignment is meant for to be done either individually, or with in a pair.

3. The basic aim, as Malinowski states, is to "grasp the native's point of view, his relation to life, to realize his vision of his world". The task is not about your interpretation of the phenomenon, but about how the "natives" see it and think about it, even if your interpretation there also will be. You need to be aware of the difference: here is how the people see it - these are my conclusions about it.

4. Remember, anthropology looks always both at some concrete and local phenomenon, seeing through it something more universal or common or translatable to all human beings and cultures. This is why we will combine the research assignment with the literature assignment, to ensure you have conceptual tools for thinking about your chosen subjects.

Visual anthropology


1. You have the "six visual domains": photo, film (video), tv, arts & crafts, built environment, performance.

2. And you can choose if you are interested in visual as means of getting data, or as object of your study: either e.g. you take photos/video sacred places, or, you collect and study photos/videos presenting sacred places. 

3. Report and present your results in a visual format.

Urban phantasmagory

You should study a phenomenon within the topic of the city and the sacred/ fantastic/ superstition/ ritual/ etc. Possible examples:
- sacred places. And either study how the places themselves, or representations of the sacred places. What places are sacred? 
- sacred images: what images (of the city, of places...) are sacred? 
- rituals. Rites of passage: changing from one role/status/place to another. Rites of purity/impurity. Everyday rites of constructing reality.
- ghosts and ghouls
- superstitions

Practical stuff

Draft a research plan:
- what is your topic? what do you want to study?
- what is your approach? What visual domain will you concentrate on? from what angle?
- what will you need to do: observe - how, when, how to document? interview, same questions. where can you find visual material? how will you use it?
- how will you realize the report?

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

6.3. The sacred, fantastic, superstitious, ritual

Ritual is, first and foremost, a mode of paying attention.
Place as fundamental characteristic of ritual: place directs attention.
Ritual is, above all, an assertion of difference in time, space, place, person, hierarchy.
Ritual is ordinary activities placed in extraordinary setting
- a magical imitation of desired ends
- a translation of emotions
- a symbolic acting out of ideas
- a dramatization of a text
- a relationship of difference between
- fundamentally about details

Some literature

Emile Durkheim: Elementary Forms of Religious Life
Jonathan Z Smith: To Take Place. Toward Theory in Ritual
Rene Girard: The Violence and the Sacred
Giorgio Agamben: Homo Sacer
Mircea Eliade: The Sacred and the Profane
Mary Douglas: Purity and Danger. An analysis of the concepts of pollution and taboo.

Walter Benjamin: Paris of the Second Empire in Baudelaire/ and Some Motifs in Baudelaire
Michel Serres: Rome, The Book of Foundations

5.3. Visual Anthropology

[Ethnography has a] goal, of which an Ethnographer should never lose sight. This goal is, briefly, to grasp the native's point of view, his relation to life, to realise his vision of his world. We have to study man, and we must study what concerns him most intimately, that is, the hold life has on him. In each culture, the values are slightly different; people aspire after different aims, follow different impulses, yearn after a different form of happiness. In each culture, we find different institutions in which man pursues his life-interest, different customs by which he satisfies his aspirations, different codes of law and morality which reward his virtues or punish his defections. To study the institutions, customs, and codes or to study the behaviour and mentality without the subjective desire of feeling by what these people live, of realising the substance of their happiness—is, in my opinion, to miss the greatest reward which we can hope to obtain from the study of man.
Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922) by Bronislaw Malinowski.


And the six visual domains which constitute a culturally conditioned visual communication system amenable to ethnographic analysis (according to Jay Ruby):
Photo
Film
TV
Arts and crafts
Built Environment
Performance

Some literature on Anthropology:

Ruth Benedict: The Patterns of Culture
Emile Durkheim: The Elementary Forms of Religious Life
Claude Levi-Strauss: Introduction to the Work of Marcel Mauss
Claude Levi-Strauss: The Scope of Anthropology
Marcel Mauss: Techniques of the Body
Margaret Mead: Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Cultures

And some on Visual Anthropology

David MacDougall: The Visual in Anthropology in Rethinking Visual Anthropology 1997 (can be downloaded as pdf)
Jay Ruby: Seeing Through Pictures. The Anthropology of Photography
Eliot: Weinberger: The Camera people in Visualizing Theory
Visualizing theory
Ks: Visual Anthropology.net