(Self-)Representation, Agency, and Gaze: Afghanistan through the Lens of local Photographers
Fiona Katherine Smith, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften
What is photography and how can it be used as a tool for self-representation and documenting history? How are photographs from different periods in Afghanistan’s history viewed from various gazes? How do local photographers seek representation and authority in discourses on conflict and social change in Afghanistan? Following a preparatory phase (Week 1-5) in which the students are introduced to debates surrounding photography and decolonial visual research methods, and a series of public guest lectures from local photographers who present their work and contextualise it in Afghanistan’s recent history (Week 6-10), the students conduct their own research on a self-selected photograph or series (Week 11-13), preparing for the final presentations. While the research projects are ultimately conceived by the students themselves, potential research projects could look at the work of one of the guest lecturers or another photographer, or focus on a topic such as gender, religiosity, cultural heritage, etc., or a specific event. The semester concludes with a multimedia presentation of the visual research outputs. Anthropological experience is desired but not essential as this methodology is discussed in the group and students with existing skills can share them with the others through peer-learning. The X-StuRG is especially suited to students of Area Studies, Ethnology/Anthropology, (Art) History, Social Sciences, Political Sciences, and Media Studies.