A Review of: “Reflecting Visual Ethnography”

  • Published on
    09-Mar-2017

  • View
    216

  • Download
    4

Embed Size (px)

Transcript

  • This article was downloaded by: [The UC Irvine Libraries]On: 02 November 2014, At: 06:39Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Visual Anthropology: Published incooperation with the Commission onVisual AnthropologyPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/gvan20

    A Review of: Reflecting VisualEthnographyEduardo da Veiga aa Cape Town, South AfricaPublished online: 19 Jul 2007.

    To cite this article: Eduardo da Veiga (2007) A Review of: Reflecting Visual Ethnography, VisualAnthropology: Published in cooperation with the Commission on Visual Anthropology, 20:4, 315-317,DOI: 10.1080/08949460701424338

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08949460701424338

    PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE

    Taylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever orhowsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arisingout of the use of the Content.

    This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions

    http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/gvan20http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080/08949460701424338http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08949460701424338http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions

  • BOOK REVIEWS

    Reflecting Visual Ethnography

    Postma, Metje, and Peter Ian Crawford (eds.). Reflecting VisualEthnography: Using the Camera in Anthropological Research.Leiden: CNWS Publications; Hjbjerg: Intervention Press, 2006;428 pp., index, photographs, DVD with extracts from films.ISBN: 90-5789-108-5=87-89825-14-4, US $120.00.

    Reflecting Visual Ethnography is a collection of articles presented at the EvaluatingVisual Ethnography conference held in 1999. The conference was to honor thework of the anthropologist and ethnographic filmmaker Dirk Nijland. Like theconference, this collection of articles attempts to address two fundamental issuesin visual anthropology: (1) how can anthropologists use the camera in research?and (2) what is the relationship between anthropological knowledge and visualethnography? The book is a dialogue between written and filmed anthropology,and gives discussion on how to reconcile the two anthropologies. The volumeincludes a DVD with fragments of the films discussed.

    The book is divided into five thematic sections. The first of these is Acting andSeeing. This section elucidates Nijlands theoretical orientation in visual anthro-pology, where vision and bodily engagement influence the process of culturallearning and emotional embodiment. Visual anthropology is separate from visualethnography, where the latter becomes a subset within the former. Nijlandstheoretical perspective is structuralist: visual ethnography is the means to cap-ture the physical performance of culture. Film is the objectification of these cul-tural performances. Chapter 1, by Nijland, describes how vision is important forunderstanding culture through neurological and neuropsychological studies.Nijland uses these theoretical perspectives to understand how participants inhis film Tobelo Marriage make sense of their images in the film.

    The second thematic division is Analysis and Elicitation. The chapterswithin this section are reflections on the uses of edited and unedited visualmaterial in the analysis of cultural practices and the elicitation of the perspectivesand experiences of the participants regarding the visual representation of rituals.The elicitation techniques enable participants to re-experience an event, whichallows visual ethnographers to gauge emotional response. Visual materials alsogive researchers a single stimulus with which to understand a number of diver-gent views in a community. Notable chapters in this section include Chapter 3by Jos Plantenkamp and Chapter 4 by Erik de Maaker. Plantenkamps chapteris an account of how important visual representation is to the Tobelo people.

    Visual Anthropology, 20: 315317, 2007Copyright # Taylor & Francis Group, LLCISSN: 0894-9468 print=1545-5920 online

    DOI: 10.1080/08949460701424338

    315

    Dow

    nloa

    ded

    by [

    The

    UC

    Irv

    ine

    Lib

    rari

    es]

    at 0

    6:39

    02

    Nov

    embe

    r 20

    14

  • The chapter describes how these individuals make sense of Tobelo marriage fromtheir cosmological orientation. Chapter 4, by de Maaker, is a detailed account ofthe process of filming ritual. De Maaker describes the process of making an eth-nographic film based upon the Teyyam festivals, which is a negotiation with theperformers in the film [see Visual Anthropology, 13(2): 185197; film reviewed in16(1): 101103].

    Sociality is the third thematic grouping of papers. These chapters deal witheither the socialization that occurs between filmmakers and their participants orthe filming of social processes. Film reveals sociality through the reactive pres-ence of the camera and the features of film that allow it to capture ways ofrelation and communication that are difficult to express lexically. The three chap-ters in this section of the volume are all exceptional. Of notable mention is Chap-ter 7, by Jean Lydall and Ivo Strecker. This chapter is a lucubrated account oftheir work among the Hamar, with particular focus on the use of their method-ology for socialization between themselves and the participants.

    The fourth section in the book is Ritual, Time, and Space. These papers con-tend with the anthropological and methodological dilemmas of representing ritualas content and the relation between content and form. The chapters in this sectionexplore the relationship between the content of a film and the context filmed, filmsability to represent a ritual context temporally, and the perspective that a filmrepresents. Chapters 10 (Bert van den Hoek, Dirk Nijland, and Bal Gopal Shrestha)and 11 (Karl Heider) are descriptions of the film Sacrificing Serpents. The formerchapter is a comprehensive report of the process of making the film, whereasHeider reviews the film for its effectiveness as an ethnographic film. The remainingchapters in this section are all erudite examples of visual ethnographic research.

    The concluding section is Narrative. The chapters in this section explorehow narrative manifests in life and in film, and the degree of compatibilitybetween the two. Ethnographic filmmakers need to find the narratives in the livesof those they film, as capturing the perspective of the participants is not possible.Peter Crawford (Chapter 14) describes the collaboration with Jean Pinholt on theReef Islands Ethnographic Film Project. The project works with members of theReef Islands communities to develop ethnographic film. Crawfords stimulatingaccount is both of interest for the anthropological knowledge gained about thebig men of the Reef Islands and for the community as a means to preserve cul-tural rituals. This chapter is exemplary for its description of the actual potentialthat ethnographic film can have.

    Reflecting Visual Ethnography is the new tome of reference in visual anthro-pology. The two classic reference works in visual anthropology are Paul HockingssPrinciples of Visual Anthropology [2003] and Howard Morphy and Marcus BankssRethinking Visual Anthropology [1997]. These two volumes exemplify the foundingtheoretical definitions and concerns of the field. Reflecting Visual Ethnographys con-cern is specifically with methodology; the papers in the volume are the outcomes ofvisual ethnographic research, unlike the theoretical concerns of the other twovolumes. The majority of the papers in the volume are solid presentations ofhow to conduct visual ethnographic research.

    While this book offers a number of exemplary cases of visual ethnographicresearch, none of these accounts breaks any new theoretical ground, as can be

    316 Book Reviews

    Dow

    nloa

    ded

    by [

    The

    UC

    Irv

    ine

    Lib

    rari

    es]

    at 0

    6:39

    02

    Nov

    embe

    r 20

    14

  • seen with the two familiar questions of concern in the volume. Readers who areversed with the debates and discourses will not find anything new in terms oftheoretical content. Rather, they will find practical accounts that make use ofthe disciplines current theoretical concerns. The books greatest strength is theexample it provides of the practicality of ethnographic filmmaking.

    As a whole, this volume lacks theoretical consistency, as articles vacillatebetween positivistic theories and phenomenological interpretive justifications.An example is Chapter 1, by Dirk Nijland. He applies neurological justificationfor external cultural behavior; this account is positivist, as it preserves causeand effect as a means of explanation of meaning. Culture and interpretation ofculture have become neurologically determined. While Nijlands work is thetheoretical base for the collection, his perspective is not maintained consistentlythroughout. Many of the paper follow phenomenological understandings, ren-dering them inconsistent with the intended purpose of the book.

    As a whole, it is an exciting and much needed reference work for research invisual ethnography. However, the book breaks no new ground theoreticallywhen that was actually the books intention.

    Eduardo da VeigaCape Town

    South Africaeddaveiga@gmail.com

    Book Reviews 317

    Dow

    nloa

    ded

    by [

    The

    UC

    Irv

    ine

    Lib

    rari

    es]

    at 0

    6:39

    02

    Nov

    embe

    r 20

    14

Recommended

View more >