Teaching visual anthropology at the University of Kent has been a hugely enjoyable and pedagogically rich experience for me. As I have gradually fed my research into my teaching, I have gained insights that have heavily informed the direction and content of my research and documentary practice.
Since 2009 I have taught Visual Anthropology Theory and Visual Anthropology Project (Video). For a taste of the development and result of that teaching student blogs describe the process of making their films and reflexive commentary on the pedagogical value of some of the teaching techniques I used, most particularly the production of a symbolic camera.
They can be found below in the blogs of students, framed in relation to annual screening events that showcase our students’ creativity.
Please check out the ukvisualanthropology website for the latest student work.
2013 –Peopling Places
2012 –Self Spaces
2011- Ten Challenges
Video based research and teaching are complimentary in visual anthropology, to value one over the over, does a great injustice to the transformative potential of linking teaching and research.
The integration of video research and teaching is particularly interesting and exciting for me. Pedagogical exercises that focus on reflexivity and reception support and expand student creativity.
I give two examples that relate to contact improvisation and the community practice of sharing. When students have the opportunity to experience sharing or contact improvisation after having seen and reflected on its representation on screen, they are given an extra experiential reference point, that test many previous assumptions they have about themselves and their ability to judge and evaluate the ‘truth’ of visual representations. The process of then deciding where they stand in relation to what the video camera actually does, opens up creative possibilities that are consolidated in their video projects.