Scopic Regimes and the Observational Approach: Ethnographic Filmmaking in a Czech Institution

This source preferred by Rosie Read

Authors: Read, R.

Journal: Visual Anthropology

Volume: 18

Pages: 47-64

ISSN: 0894-9468

DOI: 10.1080/08949460590900043

In recent years, visual anthropologists such as MacDougall [1997] and Ginsburg [1998] have identified the need to develop the connections between the study of visual cultures and practices on the one hand, and the ethnographic use of visual media on the other. This article explores one way in which this might occur through a focus on the relationships between power, routinized ways of seeing, and ethno-graphic documentary filmmaking. I argue that the analysis of the ways in which power relations are embedded in visual forms and practices raises questions about how these processes might be critically explored by visual means (e.g., by using film or photography). This is demonstrated through an examination of my own research in a Prague institution. In this context, routine visual practices mediated power relations and "constructed" people within the institution in particular ways. I consider whether the filming technique I used was adequate to the task of exploring and representing these institutional power relations, or whether it mirrored and reproduced them.

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