Summary Gillian Rose - Visual Methodologies

Topics: Research, Anthropology, Discourse analysis Pages: 10 (3625 words) Published: October 12, 2014
Chapter 10 - An Anthropological Approach

1. The social life of images: an introduction
- Importance of exchange relations → importance of objects that are exchanged for social relations - Visual materials not as something to be decoded but as objects with which things are done - Interest in the practical mediatory role of visual objects in the social process - Claim that visual objects and the people who do things with them are mutually constitutive - Studying visual images in the context of colonial and postcolonial social relations

2. The social life of things: materiality, materialization and mobility This approach has three key characteristics:
- Treats images as material objects
→ materiality = how they (photos) look and feel, their shape and volume, weight and texture - Its understanding of how the material qualities of an image intervene in the world, particularly the world of people → the significance of an object does not pre-exist its social life; what is done with an image rather than its inherent meaning, that gives it significance; there is a range of potential meaning which are latent until mobilized in a specific context → BUT the significance of objects are not entirely determined by the meanings people place on them


- The recontextualization of objects (Thomas) = in its social life and travels an object passes through different cultural contexts which may modify or even transform what it means - Visual economy (Poole) = the notion of an economy in which photographs are central - conveys a sense of both the circulation of images between places and the structured effects of that circulation

3. How to observe the social life of images
- Reliance on ethnography and interviews of contemporary anthropological work 3.1 Finding your images
- The anthro. approach chooses to work with images it thinks will have effects in the world - Limitations to sort of images → focus on solid objects that don’t usually change form as they travel 3.2 The materiality of the visual object

Three aspects:
- Visual form
- Material form
- Presentational form
→ particular importance to those material qualities that the viewers emphasize or enact 3.3 What is done with a visual object in a particular location - Important to consider how an individual image is placed in relation to other objects - How are images looked at in that context - which most likely involves a lot more than just looking - Who does what with visual objects (e.g. differences in gender) - Biographies of objects → local appropriations of the photographic medium and some of the rules and conventions that governed those appropriations 3.4 The mobility of the visual object: where it travels

- Clear conventions shaping this movement (e.g. with family photographs) 3.5 The effect of the visual object: putting it all together - Complex
- Can be interpreted using discourse analysis
- Sometimes the purpose of their mobility is to extend a meaning or value attached to an object in one place, to another place (responding to Thomas’ recontextualization) 3.6 Reflexivity and the anthropological approach

- The reflexivity of this approach is of a particular kind. It might be described as less autobiographical and more situational. It works from specific moments of relation or surprise between the researcher and the researched, in order to mark the constructed nature of the researcher’s account

4. The anthropological approach: an assessment
- Possibly pays more attention to the full range of qualities possessed by visual objects compared to other methods - Concept of recontextualization was intended to enable the discussion of power relations as they play out through the movement of objects - Attention to several sites and modalities → technological and compositional, social, site of audiencing, site of production - Limitations of huge amount of time necessary to conduct research - Plunging into the specificities of case studies without...
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