The teaching and research focus visual anthropology of the Institute of Cultural Anthropology/European Ethnology at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen teaches students the multiple approaches of visual anthropology as well as media anthropology. In addition, it aims at initiating research at PhD and/or externally funded project level to help strengthening visual anthropological perspectives both within and outside the discipline.
The term visual anthropology refers to a direction within the disciplinary canon of cultural anthropology, European ethnology, and cultural and social anthropology that examines audio-visual communications in everyday life. Like media anthropology, visual anthropology also explores the production and use of media by means of qualitative, mostly ethnographic methods. In addition, it uses visual and audiovisual media technologies to describe forms of life and analyze them regarding the ways in which they and their institutional conditions have emerged, how they change, and how they are related to symbolic orders, conflicts, politics, and (future) developments. A characteristic of visual anthropology is that film, or video, photography and other (cross-)medial formats are not only used as a means of survey and analysis formats, but also as a formats for communicating the scientific results - as an alternative to the written text - e.g. in the form of documentary-ethnographic films.
Teaching and Research Focus
In undergraduate teaching, the institute in Göttingen offers seminars on the historical development of media formats, on image and film analysis, and on media practices in the past and present. The teaching focus is on the theories, methods and practices of documentary-ethnographic film work. In addition to introductory BA courses, which are open to all students of the university across disciplines through the recognition as a key competence, the core focus is the master's program-CVA, the MA in KAEE with a focus on "Curriculum Visual Anthropology".
Students can apply for enrollment in the CVA every 2 years (2021, 2023, and so on). 12 university places are available. CVA graduates have the opportunity to submit a practical media work (e.g. film, but also other formats) as part of the MA thesis. The CVA is offered as an integral part of a full Masters of Arts in Cultural Anthropology/European Ethnology: At least 30 of the total 78 ECTS are reserved for modules in which the theories and practices of ethnographic film are taught in the form of a teaching research project. In this way, the program serves as a professional qualification for the entire spectrum of the subject: from university science to museums, cultural tourism, public relations, as well as film and television. More information on applying for the master's program CVA can be found here.
In contrast to other full master's programs in visual anthropology, students are supervised individually and on-site by the institute's staff throughout the entire course of their studies, from theoretical instruction in seminar sessions to their first practical steps in the field and the planning and realization of their master's film. Moreover, students are not required to have their own technical equipment. The institute and the university are equipped with a wide range of camera equipment and editing facilities. In addition, there are no tuition fees for the CVA in Göttingen other than the administrative fees required for universities in Lower Saxony.
Above and beyond the BA and MA programs, the doctoral regulations of the Faculty of Humanities at the Georg-August-University of Göttingen also allow doctoral candidates in the subject of Cultural Anthropology/European Ethnology to submit their dissertation in combination with a film or other audiovisual media format. Furthermore, the teaching and research focus visual anthropology initiates (third-party funded) projects with a visual anthropological component and understands itself as a point of contact for cultural and educational institutions regarding all issues of audiovisual research and communication work.
The CVA has a wide range of internationally oriented cooperations. As part of the Erasmus+ mobility program, KAEE students have the opportunity to spend semesters abroad at the Institute for European Ethnology at the University of Vienna and the ISEK - Institute for Social Anthropology and Empirical Cultural Studies at the University of Zurich, both of which regularly offer courses in visual anthropology and/or media anthropology. In addition, the CVA cooperates with the German International Ethnographic Film Festival (GIEFF), other university institutes and organizations in Göttingen, such as the Centre for Modern Indian Studies (CeMIS), the Centre for Collection Development, the video team of the Lower Saxony State and University Library, and local art-house cinemas. Through internships and/or project work, students can become involved in concrete film production processes on site and enter into a direct international dialogue of theoretical engagement with the medium.