B3 Visual Anthropology – Upcoming and Ongoing Projects


Panel organiser: Lívia Šavelková

University of Pardubice


The objective of this panel is to promote projects in various stages of their realization and present the processes and forms of developing such projects. The panel encourages alternative and experimental forms of (re)presentation of themes and subjects related to visuality and ethnography. The new technology and its influence on anthropological procedures and outcomes result in drawing attention to ethical issues. This creative process of developing projects including methodological and ethical matters will be (self)reflected and discussed during the presentations of trailers, fragments of films, photography, and pictures. In the CEE countries, the anthropological production is still strongly tied with its textual form. It raises a question, if it is caused by the specifics of audiovisual anthropological production, such as expanses on technical facilities and costs of postproduction and distribution, and/or by the lack of roots of this (sub)discipline in this area. The panel will give an insight on the actual condition of the visual anthropology in this region.



Saturday, September 13, 2014


14:00-17:30 Visual Anthropology – Upcoming and Ongoing Projects

Part I

Chair:  Lívia Šavelková

14:00-14:30        Adam Spálenský and Štěpánka Plachá: Antropofest – The Ongoing Process

14:30-15:00        Milan Durňak: The Musicians – Visual Ethnography Project

15:00-15:30        Barbora Půtová and Václav Soukup – poster: Propaganda in Visual Anthropology


15:30-16:00 Coffee Break


Part II

Chair:  Milan Durňak

16:00-16:30        Lívia Šavelková: From “Exotic” Other to “Exotic” Self

16:30-17:00        Piotr Cichocki: Image, assembly and property at digital fieldworks

17:00-17:30        Barbora Spalová: Participation and representation: The case of Czech theatre dealing with the transfer of Germans




Antropofest – The Ongoing Process

Adam Spálenský and Štěpánka Plachá

(Antropofest o.s. team members, Prague)

The main aim of this paper is to present a project of the Antropofest, the anthropological film festival in the Czech Republic. In 5 years existence, more than 100 images from professional anthropologists, graduates, and MA students from the Czech Republic and abroad were screened. The civic association that organises the festival has been trying to establish a cooperative platform for people who engage in social anthropology with an emphasis on visual anthropology. This civic association has chosen the festival contest as a mean of communication. The main aim of the whole idea is to create an environment in which, independently and personally, each of the participants have the opportunity to present their anthropological research and discuss it with other participants. The form of the festival has been a subject of some critic. In our paper, we would like to give insight into the project that is still in progress.



The Musicians – Visual Ethnography Project

Milan Durňak

(Institute of Ethnology, Charles University in Prague)

The main aim of the paper is to introduce the creating process of an ethnographic film project about the generations of folk musicians in Čirč, a village in the north-east of Slovakia which is especially well-known for the specific type of folk music. Music groups are performing their art activity at weddings, family celebrations, cultural events, or at other types of local celebrations. The project is trying to connect various types of mediality, representations and methods of anthropological filmmaking. The paper will consider especially the questions of production background, necessity of interdisciplinary cooperation as well as the role of audio-visuality in the process of engaging hypermedial ethnography. Shooting material has been realized for 4 years. Audio-visual samples will be included in the presentation of project concept.



Propaganda in Visual Anthropology

 Barbora Půtová and Václav Soukup

(Institute of Ethnology, Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague)

The subject of this poster is an analysis of propaganda seen from the perspective of visual anthropology. Special attention will be paid to its techniques, possibilities, objectives and current manifestations. The study will also focus on the use of visual means serving as tools of political propaganda and totalitarian ideologies and how propaganda has transformed in the era of new media. We will not omit means of traditional promotion such as posters, billboards, TV commercials, radio broadcasting or the internet that were a part of political propaganda used by totalitarian regimes. The study will also present the phenomenon of hyperreality and so-called committed art, which was transformed by totalitarian regimes into an ideological tool of propaganda and turned artists into compilers of predefined content and semantic units. Another subject of analysis will also be basic visual propaganda mechanisms – realistic representation, simplicity, monotonousness or repetition. Propaganda was first researched in the United States of America in the 1920s and 1930s. Visual anthropology has become the focal point of the ongoing research on propaganda, as information selection, withholding the truth or misrepresenting different facts or arguments together with creation of legends prevent the reality from being interpreted impartially.



From “Exotic” Other to “Exotic” Self 

Lívia Šavelková

(Department of Social Sciences, University of Pardubice, Czech Republic)

In Said´s notion of “Orientalism” as a set of discursive practices through which the West structured the imagined East, the Czech Republic (or former Czechoslovakia) in particular, and Eastern Europe in general, has been viewed by “the West” as a space inhabited by “exotic other” (Said 1978, Wolff 1994). The former socialist countries (and the so called post-socialist countries) have been constructing their own “Orients” and “exotic others” as well. As Todorova (1997) stated: “Everyone has had one’s own Orient, pertaining to space and time, most often of both.” The presentation focuses on a visual (re)presentation of a meeting between people who might have mutually constructed as the “exotic other”. Based on filming of a visit of the Native American team competing at the World’s Lacrosse championship held in the Czech Republic, we would like to discuss following issues: What are the ethical issues involved in decision making and knowledge production by “Non-Western” people about people often described as marginalized in the West broad? How does the awareness about different audiences (with their specific stereotypes about “exotic others”) affect the final product of filmmakers, anthropologists, or journalists? The paper will further debate the notion of who are the “exotic ones” and for whom.



Image, assembly and property at digital fieldworks

Piotr Cichocki

(Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, University of Warsaw)

New ways of ethnographic representations seems to be appropriate for new kinds of social spaces, fieldworks and terrains but also they function within new sets of hierarchies, contexts and values. This paper relates to question of property and possible usage of digital images, video and audio files and other multimedia for ethnographic research and analyze. I aim to compare the perspectives of (inter)national laws for copyrights, emic perspective of users and point of view from ethnographic work. Two exemplifications, from my ethnographic and education practice, show the confusion around the digital datum. The hybrid (digital and face-to-face ethnography) research among the users of social network site grono.net and in the corporation that administrated the web-page divulged that digital data have many potential meaning. For the corporation they are technical and commercial good (sold to marketing agencies), for users – resource for virtual identity, for researcher – inspiration for interpretation and resource for editing. These perspectives may have contrary aims but despite of it they consist on developing process of digitalization of the social and place for ethnography within it. Second exemplar concerns the project of multimedia essay conducted by me and students of IEiAK UW and aimed to production of ethnographic representation from digital data and simple assembling programs. Many of on-line presented production was blocked by media production houses and other copyright owners (despite of national law legalizing particular usage of data). Foregoing raise questions not only about the proportions of individual and corporative property, of new raw materials for identities and interactions but also about the future of ethnography, its access to researched cultures and new borders it has to deal with/cross.


Participation and representation: The case of Czech theatre dealing with the transfer of Germans

Barbora Spalová

(Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague)

Not only anthropology has to deal with the crisis of representation (Marcus and Fischer 1986) and not only in social sciences we observe a strive of researchers for new forms of participation and direct involvement in the studied problems. Also contemporary art recently lived so called “ethnographic turn” and tries to find the paths “to step out the well situated scenes in order to be in contact with reality”.

The case of Czech theatre évenements dealing with the transfer of Germans provides a good range of different approaches to the participation in theatre and also an interesting chronology of development of this radical theatre (van Erven 1985) in Czechia.  I will analyse the means of representation / construction of „reality“  and the participative aims of political theatre pieces of Miroslav Bambušek (Pryč! 2003, Porta apostolorum 2005, Útěcha polní cesty 2006), dance and oral history based project of Divadlo Continuo (Sousedi 2012) or documentary theatre project of Jiří Havelka (Dechovka 2013). My aim is a) to describe the discourse about the so called controversial history created by these and some other theatre projects, b) to confront the ethical issues in theatre projects with the ethical issues in similar scientific projects, c) to re-situate the art and scientific discourses in the public space.