Visual and Sensory Anthropology

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
ANTH 2020
Visual and Sensory Anthropology
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Not Specified
Semester Length
15 Weeks
Max Class Size
Contact Hours

Weekly distribution

Lecture: 2 hours

Seminar: 2 hours

Method Of Instruction
Methods Of Instruction

This course will employ a number of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including some or all of the following:

  1. Lecture
  2. Audio-visual presentations
  3. Small group discussion
  4. Seminar presentations
  5. Classroom discussion
  6. Guest lectures
Course Description
This course surveys artistic and audio-visual research methods and knowledge sharing practices in anthropology. The production, circulation, and reception of cultural representations are examined with reference to photography, ethnographic films, gallery installations and museum exhibitions. Methodological and ethical issues entailed in creating representations will be explored.
Course Content

Theoretical Foundations of Visual and Sensory Anthropology

This includes all or some of:

Semiotics and the meaning of images

Interpretation and Context

Power and the Gaze

Realism, Objectivity and Photography

The Political Economy of Image Production, Reproduction and Circulation

The Embodied Self and Sensory Anthropology


Methods and Ethics in Visual and Sensory Anthropology

This includes all or some of:

Methods and Ethics of Collaborative Practice

Methods and Ethics of Cultural Display in Museums

Profiles of Artistic and Imaginative Ethnographies

Anthropology and Digital Media


Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the course, the successful student should be able to:

  1. Identify and critically examine ethical and methodological issues entailed in audio-visual anthropological research and representations.
  2. Compare textual and audio-visual representations, both realist and experimental, of the same or similar cultural phenomena.
  3. Examine film, video and photography as technologies that both enable cultural representations and reflect the cultural and historical contexts of their production.
  4. Discuss anthropological theories of representation, identity, production, collaboration, distribution, consumption, power, and post-coloniality through examination of visual media.
  5. Trace the history of visual bias in western culture and disruptions of visual bias enabled by sensory anthropology theory and practice.
  6. Historicize and critique some stylistic conventions of documentary and ethnographic films and/or gallery and museum installations.
Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College Evaluation Policy and will include both formative and summative components. Evaluation will be based on some or all of the following assignment and project types.

Class Participation and/or Presentations 10%

Exams and Quizzes 30%

Group Workshops including class discussion and presentations 10%

A Research Portfolio integrating creative art, research skills, and academic analysis 30%

Term Paper, Essay or Written Assignment 20%

Total 100%


Students may conduct research with human participants as part of their coursework in this class. Instructors for the course are responsible for ensuring that student research projects comply with college policies on ethical conduct for research involving human subjects.

Textbook Materials

A list of required and recommended textbooks and materials is provided on the Instructor's Course Outline, which is available to students at the beginning of each semester.

Possible texts include:

Elliott, Denielle and Culhane, Dara eds. 2016. A Different Kind of Ethnography: Imaginative Practices and Creative Methodologies. University of Toronto Press.

MacDougall, David. 2005. The Corporeal Image: Film, Ethnography, and the Senses. Princeton University Press.

Pandian, Anand. 2015. Reel World: An Anthropology of Creation.Duke University Press.

Sturken, Marita and Cartwright, Lisa. 2018. Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. Third Edition. Oxford University Press.


Pandian, Anand. 2015. Reel World: An Anthropology of Creation.Duke University Press.


One of ANTH 1100, 1111, 1112, or permission of the instructor.