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RAI Research Seminar: Shireen Walton

October 5 2017 @ 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm



Popular Digital Photography and Anthropology: Cases from Iran

Dr Shireen Walton, Teaching Fellow in Material and Visual Culture, Department of Anthropology, University College London

Thursday 5 October at 5.30 pm

‘Popular photography’ as a topic of anthropological enquiry is undergoing a significant transformation in the digital age. A definitive feature of this transformation has been photography’s conversion with and integration into social media. Among the new affordances of photography is the scale of its networked sociality, with greatly increased modes and speeds of collectivity and sharing, communication, and flow. Digital photographs seen and circulated online lend themselves in several interesting ways to anthropological research; as entry points to understanding forms of cultural community building, in the study of identity and heritage politics, and by revealing how ‘global’ technologies are being linked, in a variety of ethnographic contexts the world over, to ‘local’ politics of visual self-representation. In particular, marginalised communities including indigenous, minority, or migrant groups, mobilise digital media and photographic practices as a part of wider claims to subjectivity, political visibility and collectivity. In other instances, the popular social media photography album presents a salient site of enquiry – as a ‘living digital archive’, it provides occasions for (re-)viewing digitised material (photographs, stories, objects, artefacts…), for cross-generational storytelling, and for (re-)connecting with others, on– and offline. In order to examine some of the transformations and continuities of popular photography in the digital age, I present a series of case studies from across the ‘Iranian Internet’ (Akhavan 2013). Overall, and by drawing on ethnographic research conducted in Iran, the UK, and online, I aim to illustrate the relevance of popular digital photography as a nascent field of anthropological research, while highlighting its rich theoretical and methodological contributions to the discipline more broadly.

This event is free, but tickets must be booked. To book tickets please go to https://shireenwalton.eventbrite.co.uk

Location : Royal Anthropological Institute
50 Fitzroy Street
United Kingdom


October 5 2017
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
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