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Research based teaching at the Chair of Visual and Media Anthropology

The chair of Visual and Media Anthropology wants to provide students with the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in conducting research on visual and media cultures such as 'fine and popular' art, street art, cinema and documentary films as well as photography. Through these foci, and equipped with the necessary competence to navigate and critically handle multi-media databases, they have been trained to create online visual essays. To provide sufficient research data and state-of-the art teaching environment, a specific concept for research-based seminars has been developed that enables students to develop own research projects and new ways to present their project results. With the encounter of research-based case-studies, interdisciplinary theoretical and methodological concepts and ongoing engagement with digital tools (by means of parallel tutorials), the students develop a competence to rethink canonised frames of knowledge and challenge 'container epistemologies'. Projects may range from text-based essays too new website-based platforms such as blogs, photo-essays or online exhibitions. 

Since 2009 Christiane Brosius and Cathrine Bublatzky are engaged in revising existing formats of the visual essay in Anthropological writing and to develop new methodological approaches for analyzing ethnographic image and text based material. During a period of 2 years, they received support by the Heidelberg University program ‘Welcome to Research’ and a financial funding of almost 20.000 Euro (2013 - 2015). They conceptualized a seminar format that allows students to work with scientific image-databases and digital platforms. In the light of innovative intersections between Digital Humanities and Anthropology those platforms allow intense annotation of images and videos, non-linear narrations and interlinks between diverse materials and data.

Research based seminars

In cooperation with the Heidelberg Research Architecture (HRA) and the Department of Key Competencies and Didactics, Christiane Brosius and Cathrine Bublatzky developed a specific tutorial in which advanced students train students in technical skills for using annotation tools such as HyperImage, and secondly set up an image database for individual student projects. While applying those tools in the seminars, students’ and teachers’ experience could in return serve the technical and programmer staff at the HRA to develop the digital tools further.

One example for this cooperation is Cathrine Bublatzky's seminar on Ethnographic Photography. Throughout the course students created photographic projects and presented their results with the photo essay tools of Atomic Wiki. Along the experience the Atomic Wiki tool was developed further which then, in a longer run, became an innovative teaching element for seminars at the anthropology institute and other departments at Heidelberg University.

Subsequently, in following seminars such as ‚Art as Ethnography’, ‘Migration in art and film’ (Christiane Brosius and Cathrine Bublatzky) as well as ‚Visual Anthropology – Photographic Archives and HyperImage’ and ‘Methods in Visual and Media Ethnography’ (Cathrine Bublatzky) the creation of innovative approaches to integrate multi-media data in experimental ethnographic writing on digital platforms presented a center point. Particularly the application of the image annotation platform HyperImage gained wide resonance among students and scholars at Heidelberg University as well as from other Universities (e.g. Cambridge, Leiden). In this regard invitations for several talks by Christiane Brosius and Cathrine Bublatzky as well as a Visual writing workshop by Cathrine Bublatzky represent the growing attention within the academic community.

More information about selected student projects here.

Since the winter term 2013, several seminars took place at the Chair of Visual and Media Anthropology which were funded by the "Welcome to Research" programme by Heidelberg University.


Student Projects

Picture by Christine Grote

In our seminars we encourage students to conduct their own small- and medium scale research work.

Find detailed information about selected student projects here.