This article provides a re-evaluation of various texts written by Margaret Mead on the use of the camera in anthropology. Its main aim is to trace the development of her ideas over the years in order to gain a clearer idea of the extent of her contributions in this field. Four texts published between 1956 and 1975 provide the primary source material for the reflections, which also include contemporary perspectives informed by the digital age. The text thus discusses issues linked to ethics, institutionalization, archives and teaching in the area of visual anthropology.
Margaret Mead; photographic analysis; ethnographic film; archives
DOSSIER: VISUAL ANTHROPOLOGY
Visual Anthropology in post-colonial worlds: "what has gone wrong?"
João Martinho Braga de Mendonça
Paraíba Federal University
This article provides a re-evaluation of various texts written by Margaret Mead on the use of the camera in anthropology. Its main aim is to trace the development of her ideas over the years in order to gain a clearer idea of the extent of her contributions in this field. Four texts published between 1956 and 1975 provide the primary source material for the reflections, which also include contemporary perspectives informed by the digital age. The text thus discusses issues linked to ethics, institutionalization, archives and teaching in the area of visual anthropology.
Keywords: Margaret Mead, photographic analysis, ethnographic film, archives
Margaret Mead (1901-1978), a US anthropologist, became widely known for her research with Samoan adolescents and native peoples of New Guinea (Mead 1928, 1935). Producing many texts over her career (Mead & Gordon 1976), not all of them as well-known to anthropologists as the works cited above, she also played an important role in the development of the use of image techniques in anthropological research.
Mead began her work under the supervision of Franz Boas (1858-1942), in Samoa, with research demonstrating how the behaviour of Samoan adolescents was not shaped by the emotional crises attributed by contemporary Western psychologists to the inherent psychophysiology of pubescent youths. Her research therefore emphasized the role of culture in a critical study of behaviour deemed to be 'natural.'
The culturalist school, rooted in Boas's work, sent out branches in various directions. The 'culture and personality' studies represented one of these directions and as well as Mead, included Ruth Benedict1 1 Ruth Benedict's best known books are Patterns of culture and The chrysanthemum and the sword, the latter on patterns of Japanese culture, written under the influence of the Second World War (Benedict 1934, 1946). and Edward Sapir2 2 Sapir worked on the boundaries of linguistics, anthropology and psychology. His famous article "Culture, genuine and spurious," written in the 1920s and published in Brazil only in 1970 (Sapir 1970), sets out his critical conception of the relations between notions of culture and the development of the personality. among their main exponents. Patterns of culture (Benedict 1934) was published around the same time as Sex and temperament (Mead 1935). Both became classics of the discipline that expressed the principles of Boasian cultural relativism.
In addition Sex and temperament later became identified as a precursor to contemporary gender studies. In this book Mead develops a critique of the naturalization of differences between men and women in light of her research among three distinct cultures of New Guinea (Arapesh, Mundugomor and Tchambuli). She based her arguments on their different temperaments, either observed to be indistinguishable between men and women but culturally distinct and contrasted (Mundugomor and Arapesh), or perceived as opposed between men and women, however in an inverse manner to Western patterns (Tchambuli).
However it was in Bali that the author embarked on her first and unparalleled extensive incursion into the use of images on anthropological fieldwork. Her partner in this undertaking, the anthropologist Gregory Bateson3 3 In 1932-33 Mead and Bateson met in New Guinea. For a summary of this episode in relation to discussions of culture and personality, see Samain (2004: 25-33). , trained in Cambridge, was responsible for taking the photographic and cinematographic images, while Mead took detailed notes of each situation. This experience was undoubtedly decisive in allowing Mead to perceive the importance of the camera in the development of anthropological methods.
Two questions arise from this pioneering research. The first relates to her ideas concerning the place of cameras in the human sciences, more specifically in the discipline of anthropology. Reviewing the different publications in which she makes use of photographic images shows the distinct possibilities experimented by Mead before and after the Balinese fieldwork (Mendonça 2005). Her main books with images were co-authored: Mead & Bateson (1942); Mead & MacGregor (1951); Mead & Byers (1968); Mead & Heyman (1965, 1975).
The second question is whether and to what extent Mead photographed and/or filmed herself during her fieldwork? How deep was her understanding of image production techniques? And did she write articles or books specifically and exclusively dedicated to the use of images in anthropology?
I have attempted to answer the first question in an earlier article (Mendonça 2006). Though an enthusiastic advocate of the use of images, she herself made little use of cameras. Her great ability to speak and write does not seem to have allowed room for making images. Instead she looked to direct her research partners, especially Gregory Bateson4 4 Bateson was married to Mead between 1936 and 1950. On the book that they published together (Mead & Bateson 1942), I refer the reader to the following works: Chiozzi (1993) and Samain (2004). A brief introduction can be found in Mendonça (2004). , Theodore Schwartz and Ken Heyman,5 5 Theodore Schwartz and Ken Heyman, a generation younger, were partners and image makers in new research conducted by Mead from the 1950s onwards in the same places where she carried out her first fieldworks (for example in the Admiralty Islands and Bali). as well as participating in the production of documentary films and even starring in some of them, like Margaret Mead: A portrait by a friend, filmed by Jean Rouch in 1978.
Her participation in radio interviews and films6 6 Between 1953 and 1975 Mead took part in at least 30 recordings, including radio programs, conferences and interviews, as well as the seven films that she produced using the Balinese material (for the series Character formation in different cultures). Another 11 films involved her as narrator, consultant or participant. All this material is listed in Mead & Gordon (1976: 168-175). seems to have been connected to the urgent need to communicate anthropological discoveries to a wider public beyond academia interested in a varied range of subjects. Mead's engagement in the dissemination of anthropological knowledge (on radio and television, in weekly magazines and so on) is an essential element in interpreting her specific contributions to the field of visual anthropology.
On the other hand, considering everything that Mead wrote and published (Mead & Gordon 1976), more than one thousand items including scientific books, articles and other kinds of texts,7 7 The bibliography organized by Joan Gordon includes titles and complete references for all the author's publications on a wide variety of subjects, many of them in magazines from the time such as Redbook Magazine (Mead & Métraux 1970). it is curious that we encounter just four main articles devoted exclusively to the use of images in anthropology (Mead 1956, 1963, 1970 and 1975). These texts provide the source material for this paper. I aim to show that the primary aim of these texts was to promote the use of the technologies then available to anthropologists in the US and Europe. To what extent, then, can we understand Mead's involvement with images through these articles, published after her Balinese fieldwork?
Despite everything already said about photography and films in the work of Mead and her research partners,8 8 Here I highlight the following works, almost all of them dedicated to Mead and Bateson's Balinese research: Heider (1976), Worth (1980), Jacknis (1988), Chiozzi (1993), Lakoff (1996), Canevacci (2001), Sullivan (2001) and Samain (2004). my aim here is to broaden our comprehension of Mead's specific contributions, as well as reflect on the directions taken by contemporary visual anthropology in the post-colonial world. Consequently her 1975 article, well-known and a frequent reference work even today when discussing the author's conception of visual anthropology,9 9 See, for example, Ribeiro (2004: 56) or Zoettl (2011: 81). is taken as the culminating point of a continuous process of reflection, pervaded by imperatives but also by ambiguities, subtleties and reversals.
My experience of teaching visual anthropology in an outlying campus of a Brazilian university10 10 I work as an adjunct professor in Visual Anthropology on the undergraduate course in Anthropology at Campus IV of Paraíba Federal University, located in the city of Rio Tinto. The text presented here was developed from the middle chapters of my doctoral thesis, completed at UNICAMP under the supervision of Etienne Samain (Mendonça 2005). has motivated this paper. In particular, I argue, Mead's contributions in the past provoke ethical and political questions that arise in the present.
Photography in Culture and Personality studies
Mead's 1956 article is dedicated exclusively to the question of the use of images and was published in a collection of works from the 'culture and personality' school. Entitled Personal Character and Cultural Milieu, the book also contains texts by Jane Belo, Gregory Bateson, Edward Sapir, Cora DuBois, Ruth Benedict, Erik H. Erikson and another 20 collaborators linked to anthropology as well as psychoanalysis and psychology.
The text, "Some uses of still photography in culture and personality studies," presents an assessment of the recording techniques progressively acquired since the 1920s: large-scale photography, cinema and sound recorders. Among the different technologies then available, Mead favoured photography for various reasons:
"Still photography was the first technical aid to be given full utilization, partly because of costs and problems of power and light in the field necessary for cine and sound, and partly because our methods of analysis were still so rudimentary that such complex sequences as those provided by tape recording and cine film were still relatively intractable to analysis. Furthermore, still photography can be reproduced in a familiar form - the book - and cross comparisons in spatial terms, in the single composite plate or slide, or by spreading hundreds of prints out on accessible flat surfaces are easy and practicable. (...)" (Mead 1956: 79-80)
The publication of Growth and Culture, co-authored with Frances McGregor some years earlier (Mead & McGregor 1951), illustrated Mead's preference for the analytic potential of large-scale photography. In this work11 11 For an overview of Growth and Culture by Mead & McGregor, see Mendonça 2010. she provided a reanalysis of the material (tens of thousands of photographs and associated written notes) from her Balinese research with Gregory Bateson (author of the photographs), previously analyzed by him in Balinese Character through the use of a hundred photographic plates (Mead & Bateson 1942: 49-255).
Even film footage and sound recordings are considered by Mead, in analytic and comparative terms, on the basis of their potential visualization: "For comparative purposes film has to be reduced to sets of stills, and tapes to visual patterns" (Mead 1956: 80). Similarly other types of future recordings would also have to be visualized to become analyzable since, Mead argued, "Undoubtedly, in time, kinesthetic, tactual, olfactory, and gustatory recording devices will be developed also." (Mead 1956: 79).
For her the visual and sound recording techniques available at the time had the clear function of 'supplementing' the researcher's own visual and auditory perceptions. The use of these techniques would inevitably lead to new methodological and theoretical developments. Faced with these recording methods, Mead emphasized the preservation of the material's integrity. At the start of the article, the author identifies two opposed tendencies or movements in the history of studies of human behaviour:
"Since the beginning of the study of human behavior there has been a standing controversy between those who believed that the way to deal with complexity was to ignore it, reduce complex materials to a few manageable variables, and those who have insisted on maintaining the integrity of the material in spite of our inability to analyze it in ways which could be 'measured' (...)" (Mead 1956: 79)
Mead's article proceeds to describe examples of various ways of using the camera in research into human behaviour. The author also emphasized the role long performed by the visible in the study of the expression of emotions, citing here the book Expression of emotion in men and animals (Darwin 1872). Other more recent works are then presented in the 1956 article using the same format (photographic plates) adopted in Balinese Character e Growth and Culture.
Mead recalled, however, that only the progressive development of photographic techniques, especially still photography, made it possible to use images as a primary research tool in fieldwork. Aside from the contribution of technological advances, she also noted the parallel and irreplaceable importance of the written register in terms of preserving the original contexts and elaborating a classificatory system for future reanalyses:
"It should also be emphasized that none of these advances replace complete, accurate accompanying notes and detailed written catalogues which make it possible to place each photograph in its original context, and to cross reference photography by time, subject, personalities, etc., for future uses. (...)". (Mead 1956: 81)
The examples included by Mead "to illustrate" her article (Mead 1956: 82) refer to her own earlier works (and those of her collaborators) in which the relation (between culture and personality) is approached both textually and, in a complementary way, photographically. Presented in the form of photographic plates accompanied by written descriptions on the opposite page, each example emphasizes a specific potential for using images in different situations. The text of her article proceeds in parallel, summarizing these possibilities and the specificities of the work in question.
Nine plates are shown in all: "Balance in Bali" (plate 17 of Balinese Character), "Sibling Rivalry in Bali" (plate 72 of Balinese Character), "Inattentive hands" (plate XI of Growth and Culture), "Squatting" (plate XXV of Growth and Culture), "Ricky at 2 ½ years, U.S.A." (a selection from a family photo album by Paul Byers for Ricky's parents), "Broadway bench sitter. New York, Summer 1955" (especially prepared using photos by Ken Heyman12 12 Ken Heyman, like Paul Byers, was a photographer-researcher who became acquainted with Mead through the academic world. In the article she announces the development of work in partnership with both men, the results of which would be published later (Mead & Byers 1968, Mead & Heyman 1965, 1975). ), "Marriage, old, middle and new: Manus, 1928, 1946, 1953-54" (of New Lives for Old (Mead 1956), with photographs taken by Theodore and Lenora Schwartz, Reo Fortune, Mead and an anonymous American soldier), "Projective testing. Manus, 1954" (in which Lenora Schwartz is shown giving a psychological test to a child) and "Pondram's return from the dead. Manus, 1954" (prepared by Theodore Schwartz).
The plates reproduced from Balinese Character and Growth and Culture were slightly shrunk. The plate reproduced from New lives for old was accompanied by a text with introductory comments relating to each photo (which had not been elaborated in their original publication). All the other plates presented (with 3 to 9 photographs) follow the same format of presentation13 13 To understand the possibilities contained in this type of format, I refer the reader to Etienne Samain's analysis of the 'presentation models' of photographs in Balinese Character (Samain 2004: 55-66): hereafter I refer to this analysis whenever I use 'presentation models' in quote marks. together with a brief comment on the origin and authorship of the photos.
The photographs and comments are reduced to fit onto pages much smaller than those used in Balinese Character. This shrinkage alters the original 'presentation model' and makes both visualization and reading difficult since comments from one plate sometimes continue on the next page where another plate is displayed, each page with an average of six images. In this case the photographs obey an editorial design clearly rooted in the publication of written texts.
Mead concludes the article in a hopeful tone, emphasizing the possibility of combining a disciplined theoretical approach with photographic skills:
"(...) success in the fields of anthropology and psychology (...) is not only dependent upon an ability to communicate with an audience of fellow scientists and a supporting public, but upon an ability to do this communicating without doing violence to the 'humanity' of the subjects. This has meant in practice that those whose literary skill would have placed them within the historical humanities have both had a tremendous advantage and have also been distrusted as too literary or too artistic. In this situation photography can serve a double purpose: it can reassure those whose conception of science makes them distrustful of the use of the arts, by presenting more 'objective' evidence, and it can enable those to whom words come less easily than images to use a different method of exposition. Linking a disciplined theoretical approach with high photographic skill adds a new dimension to the field of culture and personality." (Mead 1956: 104)
This conclusion elucidates one of the author's main purposes: convincing other researchers of the importance of the use of photographs, as well as disseminating the work of her diverse collaborators in this field through illustrative examples. Photography would serve as 'objective'14 14 This word is placed in quote marks in Mead's original text, a subtle indication of a more ample problematization of objectivity by the author. evidence to be incorporated in a conception of science that tends to invalidate artistic or literary expressions in scientific work. The criticisms aimed at her first books (Mead 1928, 1935), written in a style accessible to a wider public, motivated these proposals to a certain extent.15 15 The problematization of ethnography as text and literature (which emerges in the above-cited works), which would be explored decades later in Geertz (1988) and Clifford (1988), for example, did not fit into the 1950s context when Mead dialogued with mathematicians, physicists and other scientists with the aim of consolidating anthropological methods in a strictly scientific ambit.
Anthropology in an encyclopaedia of photography
The article entitled "Anthropology and the camera" (Mead 1963) is to be found in the first volume of an encyclopaedia on photography. The text discusses the uses of the camera in anthropology as a discipline, as well as the related fields of museology and archaeology. Different aspects of photographic technique are explored (including their complementarity in relation to the cinema) and their diverse methodological applications, illustrated with examples from her own work and that of various other authors.
The 1956 article has a similar layout: the text discusses the different possibilities enabled by the use of the camera in anthropology while simultaneously displaying significant sets of photographs accompanied by (now more succinct) comments and references to the original sources.
However the editorial design is very different with the photographs more prominently displayed, both due to the large-scale format of the encyclopaedia and because of the inclusion of images of varied sizes on all the pages. Comments always accompany the images except for one page where a single photo of Ken Heyman fills the entire space and the written comment appears on the opposite page (Mead 1963: 169).
This layout clearly reflects an editorial project intent on giving greater prominence to the images. Hence, for example, while in the 1956 article Mead reproduced a large proportion of the analytic comments associated with the images from the plates printed in Balinese Character and Growth and Culture, in this article from 1963 the written comments are drastically reduced and shrunk to the corner of the same page where 8 or 9 photos are presented in a layout precisely reproducing those of the original "presentation model" (Mead 1963: 173-174).
The article is divided into 11 sections: "The still photograph as providing a total setting," "Pictures of artifacts," "Changes in the use of photography in anthropology" (referring to the research undertaken in Bali), "Photography as a form of note-taking in the field," "Observation from a distance," "Photographs for presentation of changes over time" (referring to the research with the Manus), "Photographs used as evocative techniques" (Collier Jr. 1957), "Photography and kinesics" (referring to the work of Ray Birdwhistell16 16 In Ray Birdwhistell's studies each gesture, posture and movement is represented through signs compiled in a table: each part of the body corresponds to a line and the columns are temporal units determined by the film sequence. See Birdwhistell 1952 and Winkin 1998. ), "Photography as teaching device," "Photography as equalizing communication gifts" and "Collaboration between anthropologist and photographer."
As well as images by Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson, Reo Fortune, Ken Heyman, Theodore Schwartz and Paul Byers (the same authors of the photographs in the 1956 article), the published photographs include images by Jerome Halberstadt, Walter Fairservis, John Collier Jr., Joan Mencher, Colin Turnbull, Thomas Rhys Williams, John Andromedas and Thomas Gilliard. In addition there is a photogram (submitted to microanalysis by Ray Birdwhistel) taken from the footage shot in Bali by Gregory Bateson.
Some technical aspects of little relevance in the 1956 article were covered in more depth. These included the suitability of specific photographic techniques (types of lenses and shots, use of a tripod) to particular research purposes (producing panoramic views, ethical distancing from the settings under study, control of field observations). Telephoto lenses, for example, elicited a discussion of the ethics of the researcher's insertion in the field:
"The telephoto lens has become a definite addition to the anthropologist's instruments, giving him access to actions, such as birth, trance, domestic quarrels, or sacred ceremonial activities, into which he could not have intruded his actual presence without disturbance or offense, but where his presence at a respectful distance was perfectly acceptable." (Mead 1963: 177)
Mead demonstrated knowledge of photographic techniques, as can be noted in her following comment on depth of field: "Maximum depth of field permits the collection of a large amount of behavior of people in the back-ground upon which the camera was not focused" (Mead 1963:175).
She discussed every possible use of photography. The utilization of a tripod during fieldwork, for example, with shots taken at fixed intervals, is one of the other possibilities worth experimenting. The field notebook itself is no more than the transcript of observations captured on a recording device, subsequently indexed with photographs taken during these observations. So these technologies - as well as the different types of resulting data, both verbal and visual - are conceived in conjunction to 'supplement' and 'expand' the classic field notebook.
The photos are also conceived as permanent sources for the works developed in museums and even on TV: "(...) as continuing resources for use on television, for the construction of stage sets, for dramatic performances" (Mead 1963: 170).
The other ideas discussed are basically the same as those of the 1956 text, notably the specificity and suitability of the photographic image for anthropological description: the quantity of details obtained simultaneously, the alternative for the lack of intercultural vocabulary and the possibilities for the (analytic-comparative) juxtaposition of scenes on the same plate. In addition, the written record made in parallel is highlighted as the best form of maintaining the referential contexts of the photographs (location, people involved, the occasion, dialogues, etc.) needed for the anthropological studies that they wished to develop on the basis of the images collected during fieldwork.
For Mead this adaptation of photographs to anthropological work was an innovation that could be traced back directly to Balinese Character. This idea is revealed in the comments found below the photos reproduced in full from plate 57:
"These illustrations show a new form of presentation. Used in Balinese Character, by Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead, the juxtaposition of details from many different parts of the culture does not violate the wholeness of each juxtaposed event. In this way still photography makes it possible to present, for analysis or comparison, events widely separated in time." (Mead 1963: 173)
Another important point to be considered is a brief remark made by the author. This concerned the fact that visual communication was starting to become increasingly important. In the time span from 1942, when Balinese Character was published, to 1963, the year of the article's publication, communication technologies had advanced enormously and societies began to acquire new electronic devices, developed in the post-war era, such as television sets. For Mead, therefore, it seemed obvious that anthropology, like other sciences, should invest in the use of cameras, which also meant partnerships between photographers and anthropologists:
"The need for photographers with a disciplined knowledge of anthropology and for anthropologists with training in photography is steadily increasing, as visual communication becomes more important. The use of still photography - and moving pictures - has become increasingly essential as a part of anthropological methods." (Mead 1963: 166)
The article ends precisely with a discussion of the various possibilities for collaboration within anthropological studies using images. These range from other scientists in remote parts of the world who take photographs in the communities they encounter (to be used later by anthropologists) to the active participation of the communities themselves, focused on the processes of constituting the images, both for themselves and for the outside world. This second type of collaboration reflected one of the vocations of visual anthropology that persists even today:
"In the past anthropologists photographed many peoples who themselves could not read and would never see the photographs which had been taken of them. Today it becomes increasingly important to consider the way in which people see themselves as one necessary component in presenting them to themselves and to the world." (Mead 1963: 184)
So while the relation between anthropology and communication, in the terms proposed above, was becoming ever more important, Margaret Mead sought to contribute to this process by divulging anthropological knowledge in an encyclopaedia of photography. Her article published images accredited to no less than 14 different authors, among them John Collier Jr., known then for the development of an interview method using photography17 17 Some years later, Collier Jr. would publish the first known manual of visual anthropology (Collier Jr. 1967). (Collier Jr. 1957). Hence the intention to propagate the use of photography in anthropology was combined with the initiative of promoting anthropology among photographers, potential collaborators in an expanding field.
Art and technology
Mead's article "The art and technology of fieldwork" (Mead 1970) was published in an extensive manual of methodology. In this case too the text accompanies a series of photographs. There are seven written sections: "Training," "Arrival," "Recording," "Field schools," "Personal relationships," "Audio-visual aids" and "Some kinds of field photography - Bali, 1936-1958." This last section contains no less than 16 plates showing Balinese people involved in diverse activities taken between 1936 and 1958.
As well as Gregory Bateson, credit for the images goes to Jane Belo, Claire Holt, Jack Mershon, Colin McPhee and Ken Heyman. The text explores the subjectivity of the records as reflected in the selection of images. Mead, who in previous texts had focused much more on the diversity of recording methodologies and techniques in fieldwork, this time subordinates these questions to differences of style, emphasizing the personal and subjective inclinations of the researchers:
"(...) Such recognition of the differences in the methods and results of different field workers is essential if the new field worker is to find a style of his own, one that is appropriate to his own temperament and skills, the conditions under which he will have to work, the problem with which he is involved, and the technical aids to which he has access. (...)" (Mead 1970: 247)
The book in which Mead's article was published is a 1017 page volume. Because it was smaller in terms of page size than the encyclopaedia cited above the photographs were reduced for the article. Even so the comments and photos from the plates are reproduced in full with the same type of layout as the original publications. The only exceptions are the plates with photographs by Ken Heyman (Mead's collaborator and partner on trips back to Bali) especially prepared for the article. The "presentation models" (Samain 2004: 55-66) used in Balinese Character therefore remain as a reference point in terms of the method of organizing the photographic plates.
These are arranged, therefore, in a continuous sequence in the same section at the end of the text: "Bali: elevation and respect" (from Balinese Character), "Balinese child development" (from Growth and Culture), "Balinese squatting style" (ibid.), "Bali: child nurse" (from Balinese Character), "Bali: studies of a trance medium" (from Trance in Bali (Belo 1960)), "The Kris dance" (ibid.), "Trance: attack on the self" (from Balinese Character), "Musicians in Bali" (from Music in Bali (McPhee 1966)), "Drumming hand postures" (ibid.), "Continuity in form of musical instruments" (ibid.), "Balinese artists" (from Art in Indonesia (Holt 1967)), "Visual and kinaesthetic learning" (from Balinese Character), "Balinese industrialization" (from Balinese Character), "Field work postures" (in which Mead is depicted by Ken Heyman in two photographs), "Twenty years later" (3 photographs by Ken Heyman) and "Dressing for the dance" (another 3 photographs by Ken Heyman).
The large amount of technology available, according to Mead, means that much greater care is necessary during the preparatory phase of the research. She felt that the success of the method depends on the match between personal skills and technical choices in the planning stage of research. In this combination lay the art of successful fieldwork: "to the uniqueness of the particular culture studied must be added the uniqueness of the observer, the period and the circumstances and the technology of observation." (Mead 1970: 247). The importance of records is also emphasized as a means for the researcher to perceive and assess the advances made in his or her own work through the development of particular skills.
The text lists an extensive series of fieldwork examples and possibilities involving both personal and technical questions. Hence the same idea seen previously reappears concerning visual recording methods, accompanied by written and indexed annotations, as a basis for future reanalyses that, Mead writes, would be performed using computers.
"(...) Only materials which preserve the original spatial-temporal relationships are virtually inexhaustible as sources for new hypotheses and ways of testing old hypotheses. The more material is codified by the method of selection, as when sample scenes, standard-length anecdotes, standard interviews, standard tests, are used, the more immediately useful it may be in relation to some hypothesis, and the less its permanent value." (Mead 1970: 257)
The author persistently emphasizes the idea of archives that preserve the original references points for obtaining records. Her insistence on this point can be seen as a complement to the equally recurring idea of the disappearance of isolated cultures:
"As our new methods of recording are coinciding with the disappearance of the most distinctively different and isolated cultures, the collection of such permanent records becomes even more essential. (...)" (Mead 1970: 257)
However recording technology is not conceived here independently of the subject operating the equipment. This idea lies at the root of the author's argument and is summarized in the following passages:
"Before the field worker goes to the field he should have a solid documented knowledge of the way his individual talents and skills relate to the field work task. (...) Thus at any point the technology of field work is related to the art of field work, and this in turn with the mental and physical well-being of the individual field worker. (...)" (Mead 1970: 249-250)
In none of the other articles examined here Mead did not pay such attention to the researcher's individual particularities. It is highly probably that these reflections were also prompted by Mead's experience as a university teacher and her supervision of young researchers during fieldwork, as well as the differences between her different research partners (after Bateson). The recognition of the researcher's 'subjectivity' did not prevent her, though, from granting 'objectivity' to systematically made records:
"[...] the question is one of balance between his 'subjective' contribution, that is, using his own brain to cross-reference millions of items of observation, to his 'objective contributions', that is, the collection of materials that can be handled by other single brains without the further intervention of his own, and ultimately by various sorts of computerized techniques." (Mead 1970: 257)
The temporal and spatial acquisition and indexation of the images endowed them with objectivity, enabling future reanalysis of them. But the processing of these images in the researcher's mind was taken to be subjective. Mead's focus on the researcher's individuality as a conditioning factor in their field results seems to represent a step towards recognizing the subjective dimension present in the very recording of the images. Another passage written by Mead in the book published with the photographer Ken Heyman notes, for example:
"(...) the experience of the photographer who carried to each new picture - in his own responsive movements, in the tautness of his hands holding the camera - the memories of the other faces he had seen, the other people among whom he had walked as a newcomer to whom every facet of their lives was expressive." (Mead & Heyman 1965: 10)
Passages like this serve to highlight the way in which she conceived, at least from 1965 onwards, the importance of the photographer and his or her personal experience. However this is a point seldom developed among the positions that she explicitly advocated. In this sense, as Ira Jacknis points out, Mead never actually 'retracted' her empiricism in relation to images (Jacknis 1988: 172), though her ideas on the control of subjectivity deserve closer attention.
Here once again we need to consider the author's target audience. This manual of methodology from the start of the 1970s emerged at the same time that Geertz published his The Interpretation of Cultures (Geertz 1973), a book that stimulated the discussion of hermeneutics in anthropology. The manual clearly reflects many of the past experiences that served as a baseline for the methods presented. Mead therefore worked with the old paradigm of 'objectivity' (a word frequently placed in quote marks by herself) in order to justify the incorporation of new technologies into fieldwork ahead of other anthropologists of her time.
"What has gone wrong?"
The article "Visual anthropology in a discipline of words" includes the paper presented by Mead at the Ninth International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences held in Chicago (1973). It was published as the opening chapter to the book entitled Principles of Visual Anthropology (Hockings 1975)
In this case Mead did not use photos as illustrations and for the first time (over the course of the four articles) employed the expression "visual anthropology." All the examples of the use of images cited were cinematographic. The author cites a series of works resulting from the inclusion of film in anthropology, including John Marshall on the Bushmen, Gregory Bateson on the Balinese and the Iatmul, Robert Gardner on the Dani, Jean Rouch on West Africa, Asen Balicki on the Eskimos and Timothy Asch on the Yanomami (Mead 1975: 4).
In contrast to the hopeful tone that marked the first articles discussed above, in this case the author seems to express surprise and indignation with the failure to incorporate the camera into the field of anthropology, as the following excerpts show: "we are faced with the wretched picture of lost opportunities," "our criminal neglect of the use of film," "we, as a discipline, have only ourselves to blame for our gross and dreadful negligence" and "neophytes have only too often slavishly followed the outmoded methods that their predecessors used" (Mead 1975: 4-6).
Why had anthropology failed and why was it continuing to fail to make use of the camera? "Why? What has gone wrong?" (Mead 1975: 5). Why had so little been done during all this time, "when so many better ways of recording many aspects of culture have become available"? (Mead 1975: 5). Mead called on anthropologists to recognize their failure to incorporate this essential instrumental and methodological renovation and, furthermore, for them to reverse the process then under way (in 1973): the disappearance of traditional forms of behaviour without any visual and/or sound recording.
"We must, I believe, clearly and unequivocally recognize that because these are disappearing types of behavior, we need to preserve them in forms that not only will permit the descendants to repossess their cultural heritage (and, indeed, will permit present generations to incorporate it into their emerging styles), but that will also give our understanding of human history and human potentialities a reliable, reproducible, reanalyzable corpus." (Mead 1975: 8-9)
Indeed the very motive of the text was to attempt to reply to the questions cited above. Possible obstacles to the use of the camera included: the discipline's fondness for use of the word (related to learning the language and kinship terms, as well as the memory of customs and myths told by older informants); the excessive demand for technical skills (with the camera) based on a European artistic tradition; equipment costs; ethical problems in the relationship created with people (and countries) in terms of the production and distribution of images; the fact that recording and filming is a highly selective process, never objective, and therefore inappropriate for science.
Mead looked to discuss each one of these obstacles and affirmed that there was still time to change this negative scenario. Hence the "samples of significant behaviors" (Mead 1975: 6) collected systematically (in unedited films) in various parts of the world would form the basis for the discipline's theoretical development in the future and also for the emergence in all regions of the planet (which would receive images via satellite) of an educational experience rooted in a broader and more precise understanding of cultural diversity:
"As we approach a planetary communication system, there will inevitably be a diffusion of shared basic assumptions, many of which will be part of the cultural repertoire of members of all societies. We may hope, and it is part of the anthropology's task to see to it, that before such planetary systems of thought are developed, the Euro-American tradition will have been broadened and deepened by the incorporation of the basic assumptions of the other great traditions and by the allowance for and recognition of what we have learned from the little traditions." (Mead 1975: 9)
This passage, as prescient as it is perhaps romantic, points to the post-colonial situation, a topic explored further below. It appears at the end of a discussion on ethical safeguards, participation of the filmed subjects, and the distribution of films in other countries (Mead 1975: 7-9), a topic also starting to emerge at the time and crucial to the development of an image-based anthropology.
The circle of US-European anthropologists for whom Mead was writing in 1973 probably witnessed the first moments of the gradual institutionalization of 'visual anthropology' in the USA and other countries. In Brazil18 18 On the history of visual anthropology in Brazil, see Peixoto (1995), Monte-Mor (1995), Samain (2005) and Caiuby (2010). this process began a decade later, even when taking into account, as Etienne Samain observes (Samain 2005: 115), the important translation of John Collier Jr.'s book Visual Anthropology: photography as a research method (Collier Jr. 1967), also published in the year 1973 by EDUSP.
The publication of Mead's text as an introduction to Principles of Visual Anthropology (Hockings 1975), with contributions by more than twenty authors, including Emilie de Brigard, Jean Rouch, David MacDougall, John Marshall, Jorge Preloran and Timothy Asch, was intended to expose the discomfort caused by the failure of the discipline as a whole to adopt and promote the use of images. Was Mead's discontent not motivated, then, by the emergence of 'visual anthropology' as a sub-discipline, precisely as a collateral effect of this failure?
We can also ask why photography was ignored by the author in this text, given its importance to her earlier reflections, as discussed above? As it happened most of her anthropologist interlocutors (some cited above) were especially interested in cinema. At the same time, technological development pointed to new possibilities19 19 Cameras with synchronized sound, available at the start of the 1960s, provided the basis for the 'direct cinema' and 'cinéma vérité' movements in the USA and France and for the 'cinéma du vécu' in Canada, and were certainly a decisive factor for this visual anthropology centred on ethnographic film practice. as well as a reduction in the cost of filmmaking with the arrival of video cameras.
Consequently all Mead's previous efforts to divulge methods of presenting and analyzing photographs after Balinese Character, vanish from this article. The very opposition between the visual and the verbal, already present in the title "Visual anthropology in a discipline of words," contradicts the idea of complementarity (a position advocated in the other articles) between these two types of record, verbal and visual. Hence in contrast, for instance, to what she published in 1956 when she focused on photography as an analytic method, in this text Mead seems to argue in favour primarily of cinematography. From photography to cinema, nonetheless, her intention remained resolute: to advocate and disseminate the use of the camera in the field of anthropology.
Ambiguities and challenges in Mead's work
Taking the set of four articles as a whole, the diversity of the themes and authors mentioned, their briefness, as well as the different audiences and technological periods serving as their context, it is not difficult to observe the following: the positions argued by Mead do not stem from a single, continuous and systematic reflection on the use of images, in epistemological and methodological terms, nor do they stem from continuous personal practical experience with cameras. Rather they demonstrate an enthusiastic effort over the course of several decades to expand the use of images in a field of knowledge marked by scientificism and 'objectivity.'
It would be wrong, therefore, to attribute an importance and dimension to Mead's positions that fails to correspond to what she herself effectively practiced or wrote exclusively concerning the epistemological and methodological problems introduced by the use of images in anthropology.20 20 Differently to Claudine de France, for example, who produced a study dedicated exclusively to the use of the cinema in terms of a filmic anthropology (France 1982). For this reason too it would be wrong to treat Mead's ideas in this area as closed and monolithic given that her experiences (through different partnerships) are informed by a multiplicity of styles and premises. For example, to what extent can we compare the positions argued by Mead on her own with what she produced and/or published with Gregory Bateson, Theodore Schwartz, Paul Byers and Ken Heyman?
We can take, for example, the idea that the use of the tripod helps ensure the 'objectivity' of the record (Mead 1975: 9) and compare it with what Mead had to say about this subject in a joint interview with Bateson (addressing the latter):
"Remember Clara Lambert and when you were trying to teach her? That woman who was making photographic studies of play schools, but she was using the camera as a telescope instead of as a camera. You said, 'She'll never be a photographer. She keeps using the camera to look at things.' But you didn't. You always used a camera to take a picture, which is a different activity." (Mead & Bateson 1976: 39)
To which Bateson replied: "Yes. By the way, I don't like cameras on tripods, just grinding. In the latter part of the schizophrenic project, we had cameras on tripods just grinding." (Ibid.) Mead reacted with surprise to Bateson's reference to the Bali project and asked him whether it had not been a valid use of the tripod21 21 The authors also discuss the use of the tripod in the film Dead Birds by Robert Gardner, which seemed to meet with Mead's approval but was strongly criticized by Bateson (Mead & Bateson 1976: 42). on that occasion. He merely responded "disastrous". "Why?" Mead retorted, to which he replied: "Because I think the photographic record should be an art form." (Mead & Bateson 1976: 39)
If these passages show that Bateson and Mead did not agree about the use of the tripod then we need to distinguish the final part of the 'schizophrenic project' (a reference to the fact that the Balinese research had been funded by the Committee for Research in Dementia Praecox) from the earlier parts when Bateson had not used a tripod. A closer examination of Balinese Character reveals that this difference can also be found scattered among its one hundred different photographic plates. It suffices, for now, to recognize that the position defended by Mead does not necessarily reflect everything that was undertaken in her work with Bateson (the author of the images) or even with other collaborators.
The difference between looking at things and taking pictures, marked by Mead in relation to Claire Holt and Bateson, becomes ambiguous when compared with another passage published a few years earlier:
"The true visualizer either has to give up if he is to use a camera and learn to let the camera record for him, because looking and photographing are incompatible, or learn to look with a view to taking a single condensed significant photograph. (Compare the photographs taken in Bali by Colin McPhee [...] that represent a condensed vision, with Gregory Bateson's lone sequences from a fixed stance, taken to supplement a less visual memory and provide data for further analysis [...], with Ken Heyman's photography [...] in which his photography and his observation are inextricably combined)" (Mead 1970: 250).
Here the use of a tripod by Bateson makes him a kind of observer whose visual memory needs to be supplemented (though he personally disliked using tripods, as we saw above), differently to Ken Heyman, who was capable of combining observation and photography. Now while Mead on occasion seems to defend the use of the tripod and the 'objectivity' of the records, in the passage above the difference in the styles of photographers (with or without a tripod) does not seem to reduce the anthropological validity of their records.
Each of Mead's partnerships needs to be perceived, therefore, in terms of its specificities, which reveal a multiplicity of conceptions and practices pertaining to the distinct contexts under consideration. Another example of this can be noted in Lenora Schwartz' declarations concerning the photographic work among the Manus, conducted under controversial conditions (see Mendonça 2006: 65-66).
Even if we take just one of Mead's articles, the shortest, the question of the distinction between art and science in the case of images still emerges in ambiguous form. In a passage such as the following, images are scientifically delimited through ideas such as the use of a tripod and long unedited sequences (which situates the art film in opposition to the scientific film, conceived to be the result of "instrumental observation"):
"When filming is done only to produce a currently fashionable film, we lack the long sequences from one point of view that alone provide us with the unedited stretches of instrumental observation on which scientific work must be based." (Mead 1975: 10)
Yet in another passage the author accepts the possibility of combining art and science, a combination leading in fact to the best ethnographic films:
"We do not demand that a field ethnologist write with the skill of a novelist or a poet [...]. It is equally inappropriate to demand that filmed behavior have the earmarks of a work of art. We can be grateful when it does, and we can cherish those rare combinations of artistic ability and scientific fidelity that have given us great ethnographic films." (Mead 1975: 5-6)
This combination of art and science was even advocated in the conclusions to the first articles considered here (Mead 1956, 1963). Certainly the author frequently insisted on the instrumentality and objectivity of the records, as in the following passage:
"If tape recorder, camera or video is set up and left in the same place, large batches of material can be collected without the intervention of the filmmaker or ethnographer and without the continuous self-consciousness of those who are being observed."22 22 My emphasis. (Mead 1975: 9)
In the same article, though, an earlier passage clearly highlights the limitations of such a position:
"(...) it has been possible, in the past, for the filmmaker to impose on the film his view of the culture and people that are to be the subject of this film. This cannot, I believe, ever be entirely prevented."23 23 My emphasis. (Mead 1975: 7)
Ambiguities aside, it can be said that Mead's questions in 1975 relate to the future place of visuality in anthropology, culture and education, conceived ethically at a global level (situated, it should be observed, from the viewpoint of the USA). It is in the earlier articles, however, that we find her most substantial contributions, focused in particular to what we today could call "photographic visual anthropology" (Samain 1998: 143).
Visual anthropology in a post-colonial context24 24 The following considerations derive from various readings, including Memmi (1957), Marcus (1991), Samain (1993), Scherer (1996), MacDougall (1997), Ashcroft et al. (1998), Caiuby (2010) and Marie & Araújo (2012).
The argument pursued here is that some of the ideas concerning visual anthropology found in Mead's 1975 article (use of a tripod, emphasis on moving images, the objectivity of the records, the distinction between art and science) are ambiguous and fail to reflect everything that Mead did (in different partnerships) or wrote in this field.25 25 I have covered various aspects of this question in earlier works (Mendonça 2005, 2006).
On the other hand, her effort to promote the use of the camera in anthropology is a constant factor in the articles under consideration here and even in her work in general. The instrumental and methodological renewal desired by Mead was intended to encompass the discipline as a whole, as her earlier articles demonstrate. By contrast, though, the 1975 text tacitly admits that the topic became confined to a sub-discipline: visual anthropology.
More than thirty years since the first publications of Collier Jr. (1967) and Hockings (1975),26 26 The reflection on the use of images in anthropology accompanies the history of the discipline as a whole: here I refer merely to the first publications indicating the establishment and subsequent institutionalization of the subdiscipline called visual anthropology. how far can the Brazilian case be conceived as a continuity and/or rupture with these experiences situated on the US-European axis? The creation of an undergraduate degree in anthropology with compulsory course components in visual anthropology, at an outlying campus27 27 I use the term 'outlying campus' to refer to the Restructuring and Expansion of Federal Universties (REUNI), which enabled the creation of new courses as part of promoting the expansion of Federal Universities into the interior. of a Brazilian university,28 28 Undergraduate Course in Anthropology at Campus IV of Paraíba Federal University, the latter based in the municipality of Rio Tinto (Nascimento 2010). The campus is located in the Mamanguape river valley to the north of the state capital João Pessoa. will serve as a baseline for the ensuing reflections.
The decision to include visual anthropology as a regular course component was partly linked to the career trajectories of those involved in the elaboration of the course's first pedagogical project. Some like João de Lima29 29 João de Lima and Anneusina Trigueiro de Lima, from the communications area (DECOM/UFPB), worked together with sociologists and anthropologists (DCS/UFPB) to set up the course. had experience of the Ateliers Varan30 30 Centre de Formation à la Réalisation Documentaire (Paris) with emphasis on 'direct cinema.' Site available at: http://www.ateliersvaran.com/. Accessed on 30 April 2012. at the start of the 1980s (in collaboration with UFPB) through contacts with Jean Rouch in Brazil (Lima 2010). Others like Estevão Palitot had practical experience with cameras and video tapes, visiting villages to film and show videos of other indigenous situations31 31 "Indian Program" extension project run by UFPB/SEAMPO, implemented between 2002 and 2003 as contribution to the process of identifying the Monte-Mor Indigenous Land. On the Potiguara of Monte-Mor, see Palitot 2005. as a way of assisting the land claims of the Potiguara Indians.
Consequently the project for the course,32 32 The project included the participation of José Ciríaco Sobrinho, a Potiguara 'Captain.' part of the Ministry of Education's Expansion Program, included from the outset plans to work with indigenous areas and to assemble a laboratory33 33 In April 2011 we were able to officially inaugurate the Arandu Visual Anthropology Laboratory. with computers, cameras and other equipment needed for producing documentaries. This in turn is congruent with the university's principles for expansion, which require new innovative courses and the potential for development (for the regions in question and their populations).
While the cost of equipment today34 34 Although equipment and image processing costs are often very high today, the profusion of options now available is far beyond what was available in the 1970s. no longer seems to be as much of an obstacle to visual anthropology as it was during Mead's era (Mead 1975: 6), other problems hinder its development. Along with the rapid obsolescence of new technologies, combined with the slowness of the university bureaucracy involved in purchasing and maintaining equipment, we can add the scarcity of human resources (technical and administrative) and the delays in the infrastructural works needed to form the framework for this process of university expansion. So how to advance the teaching and practice of this subdiscipline in this context?
One of the functions of image archives for Mead was to serve as empirical material for teaching and research. For her visual records had the function of showing the students of today the accentuated difference and cultural contrast at the basis of anthropological knowledge, preserving these visual materials, produced with the "emerging technologies [...] of a few selected cultures, at least" for future generations: "for training students long after the last isolated valley in the world is receiving images by satellite" (Mead 1975: 9). This was Mead's appeal in 1975. Almost like the Biblical story of Noah's Arc: preserved images of each 'species' of culture before the modernizing 'deluge.'
Today ethnographic films35 35 Here I shall limit the discussion to the example of ethnographic films. However the problems of access and the ethics of access to images extend to archives in general. produced in the USA and Europe can be bought or even accessed through the internet (via satellite) in the remote 'valley'36 36 The emphasis given here to the meaning of 'valley' as a distant place looks to highlight the fact that Mead was thinking of anthropology students from the US-European axis. of Mamanguape in South America where UFPB's undergraduate course in anthropology is run. One of the strategies for strengthening this teaching has involved, therefore, translation and subtitling of these films.37 37 The specialized literature produced from the mid twentieth century in the area of visual anthropology also merits further consideration in terms of its availability to undergraduate students in Brazil. The journal Cadernos de Antropologia e Imagem (UERJ) has made numerous advances in this area. Other strategies can be used to present films without subtitles in Portuguese, printed translations distributed to the students or simultaneous translation, for example.
Of course there are other films, spoken or subtitled in Portuguese that can be used to teach visual anthropology38 38 Of course there also films without spoken dialogue, such as Horendi by Jean Rouch (1971). . However while for introductory courses in anthropology "teaching is best realized through readings of the classics" (Peirano 2006: 88), how can basic teaching in visual anthropology take place without studying the films of people like Mead-Bateson, John Marshall, Robert Gardner, Jean Rouch or Claudine de France, to list just a few?
Visual anthropology in a post-colonial context therefore has to promote certain 'house chores': establishing international connections39 39 Here we can highlight the work undertaken by Carmen Rial and Miriam Grossi (NAVI/UFSC) in France, with Germaine Dieterlein, Jean Rouch and others. that enable broad access to and discussion of the image archives produced within Mead's "Euro-American tradition" (1975: 9).
But what about the peoples themselves who were filmed and photographed in the colonial or imperialist context of the anthropological sciences developed on the US-European axis? Here it is worth recalling one of the proposals of the "Resolution on Visual Anthropology" of the 1973 Chicago Congress:
"Institute an international distribution network to ensure that the people whose lives are filmed share fully in the results, and that the resulting documentation is freely available" (Hockings 1975: 483)
The current difficulties experienced by peoples studied in the recent or distant past in accessing the anthropological archives40 40 Whether the numerous films made in the second half of the twentieth century or even photographs from the nineteenth century, as demonstrated by the case of the Kalina of Surinam (Collomb 1998). amount to the other side of the same problem: how can formerly colonized countries (and peoples) now appropriate the images produced by the US-European axis? Here Mead identifies another function performed by archives: "[to] permit the descendants to repossess their cultural heritage" (Mead 1975: 8). In Brazil various projects have recently been developed in this direction in terms of both photographs and films.41 41 See for instance the work developed with the Kapinawá Indians with the film "Wir dürfen wieder indianer sein" (Machado 2008) under the supervision of Renato Athias. Or how anthropological photographs are made available in internet: < www.ufpe.br/carlosestevao/ > or < http://avisc.wordpress.com >. Accessed on 30 july 2012.
The participation and involvement of the people filmed has been emphasized and valorized for a number of decades already.42 42 In Brazil the project Vídeo nas Aldeias, begun in 1987, remains one of the most well-known benchmarks of this potential. Available at < www.videonasaldeias.org.br >. Accessed on 30 july 2012. The possibility of collaborative projects was indeed advocated by Margaret Mead:
"(...) the articulate, imaginative inclusion in the whole process of the people who are being filmed - inclusion in the planning and programming, in the filming itself, and in the editing of the film." (Mead 1975: 8)43 43 The works of Worth and Adair (with the Navahos), Jean Rouch (in Africa) and even Bateson and Mead in Bali are associated by Mead with this possibility, widely advocated by Jean Rouch in terms of a 'shared anthropology.'
In one way or other (collaboratively or otherwise) the images produced comprise a common heritage. They reveal not only the customs and expressions of the people filmed, but also the relational experience of the filmmaker (including his or her techniques) within the colonial or post-colonial conditions inherent to anthropology itself. We know, for example, that classic ethnographic films are not only testimony to vanished customs or cultural contrasts, they can also be conceived in terms of the contradictions that they contain insofar as they form part of the processes of colonization or their repercussions.
On this point the work in visual anthropology at the outlying campus diverges from Mead's conceptions. No longer just a body of comparative ethnographic material, the images become an expression and testimony of gazes and intentionalities, encounters and distancings, between who was behind (camera operators, directors) and those in front of the cameras. Hence the images produced by anthropologists combine with those made by travellers, traders, photographers and so on to form a common legacy of the places and the peoples who live or once lived there.
Instead of using these visual materials primarily to establish a "comparative science of culture" as Mead desired (Mead 1975: 9), the proposal is a form of work in which the images already existing simultaneously constitute and mediate a knowledge of the meanings that they contain, including contradictory ones. This knowledge tends to be interpretative, dialogical and reflexive in kind. No longer merely producing with the subjects, but looking with them towards an already established field of images, re-elaborating the dimensions of visual memory and re-evaluating the importance of images in the present.
This retrospective exercise simultaneously involves the discovery of pre-existing images (their values, authors, representations, ideologies, technical choices, styles, etc.), the way in which image technologies spread and took hold in the region, as well as the personal trajectories of those who produced or collected the images preserved today.44 44 Use of collected photographs and collaboration with photographers and the family of a deceased collector enabled the production of the film "Passagem e Permanência" in 2012. Some notes on the photographic research involved can be found in Mendonça 2011. Indeed the processes that enabled these images to be produced can be conceived as the outcomes of a process of colonization whose specific contours still remain to be more clearly defined.
Images of the Potiguara Indians of Paraíba produced during different periods can be found in a wide variety of places, reflecting the trajectories of the researchers, indigenists, missionaries and others who were in the region at any given moment. After obtaining access to the visual material,45 45 Obviously research in visual anthropology involves training in image and/or sound archiving, work which I currently coordinate at the Arandu Visual Anthropology Laboratory of UFPB with support from CNPq (National Research Council). the research aims to investigate the diverse ways of looking (Caiuby 2010: 458) that each set of images allows us to glimpse, with the participation of the subjects themselves (or their descendents) as well as the testimony of the authors of the images.
It is no longer a question, therefore, of producing images of what (it is presumed) will have disappeared in the future, as Mead's 1975 article suggests, but rather of trying to gain a better understanding of how we look at the images that pass by, remain or disappear in order to be able to respond to other questions: if and how we should produce other images, of whom and of what places? How far can we know and transform ways of looking at images of others? And what contributions has visual anthropology to offer locally or in other fields of knowledge, such as the arts or social communication?
The field of discussion in which these kinds of questions are posed stretches far and wide, ranging from the outlying campus to other Brazilian universities or even foreign universities insofar as we have indeed witnessed the advent of the "planetary communications system" foreseen by Mead (1975: 9). As well as constituting another field for anthropological research, the virtual universe that has emerged from networked computing has reinvigorated national and international connections, which have grown in strength. A favourable situation for practicing and teaching visual anthropology in Brazil.46 46 See Caiuby (2010) for a panoramic view of contemporary visual anthropology in Brazil.
The presence of scientists from other countries, such as David MacDougall at LISA/USP47 47 Laboratory of Image and Sound in Anthropology of the University of São Paulo. in 2006 (Cezar 2007), has spurred reflection, teaching and practice. Indispensable ethical concerns have been discussed under the aegis of the Brazilian Anthropology Association through a Visual Anthropology Workgroup48 48 Blog of the Workgroup available at: < http://antropologiavisualaba.blogspot.com.br/ >. Accessed on 30 April 2012. (see for example Eckert & Rocha 2004, Piault 2006). The work at the outlying campus is being stimulated by the collaborations generated by the network of researchers and institutions spread across the country.
In partnership with BIEV/UFRGS,49 49 Image and Visual Effects Database of Rio Grande do Sul Federal University. Available at: < http://www.biev.ufrgs.br/ >. Accessed on 30 April 2012. in 2011 we hosted a Visual Anthropology Seminar run by Professors Cornélia Eckert and Ana Luiza Carvalho da Rocha. The contact with LAV/UFPE50 50 Visual Anthropology Laboratory of Pernambuco Federal University. Other information available at: < www.ufpe.br/lav/ >. Accessed on 30 july 2012. through Professor Renato Athias (organizer of the Recife Ethnographic Film Festival) led to visits to our Laboratory from Laura Graham (University of Iowa, USA) and Paride Bollettin (University of Perugia, Italy), both with significant work in this area.
These "conversations with filmmakers"51 51 Name given to the sessions with guest filmmakers. in Rio Tinto were also conducted with Rose Satiko Hikiji (USP),52 52 University of São Paulo. Sebastião Rios (UFG)53 53 Goiás Federal University. and José Sérgio Leite Lopes (Museu Nacional),54 54 The film "Tecido Memória" (winner of the Pierre Verger Prize in 2010) on the experiences of workers at the Pernambuco Paulista Factory was screened and discussed with former workers of the Rio Tinto Textile Factory (operated by the same Paulista Group). as well as filmmakers from Paraíba55 55 Paraíba cinema is marked by film festivals (Aruanda and Comunicurtas), cine club movements and vibrant documentary and fictional film production. like Bertrand Lira and Francisco Sales. The partnership between Arandu/PPGA56 56 Visual Anthropology Laboratory and Postgraduate Program in Anthropology of the UFPB. and NUDOC57 57 UFPB Cinematographic Documentation Nucleus. in João Pessoa enabled the arrival of two retrospective film festivals (Jean Rouch and Pierre Perrault) curated by Balafon (MG)58 58 Available at: < http://www.balafon.org.br >.Accessed on 12 June 2012. in the Espaço Cultural of FUNESC. It should be emphasized that both professors and students (indigenous and non-indigenous) took part in these discussions and events, which took on an educational dimension.
As can be seen, visual anthropology is expanding in Brazil, generating specific challenges in the process. Whether in the large urban centres or in an outlying campus, its dialogues with the communication area or the arts (music, theatre, cinema), as well as its ethical commitment to the subjects that figure (or figured) in its images, reveal its future paths, in parallel with similar experiences of other countries outside of the US-European axis where the subdiscipline was initially formulated.
Research and teaching staff can therefore reflect on the contradictions of their own métier. Since academics are working at the outlying campus, whether they like it or not, are not also agents for the expansion of the university (of the "neo-colonial" state?) and of anthropology itself ("the oldest daughter of colonialism" as Jean Rouch said)? So what and how can we learn from the image archives? With the due precautions, we can transplant Mead's question - "what has gone wrong?" - to the contemporary context and try to discover: what can still go right?
With Gregory Bateson
With Gregory Bateson and Jane Belo
Received April 29, 2012.
Approved June 30, 2012.
About the author
João Martinho Braga de Mendonça - Doctor in Multimedia (Unicamp) and Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at Campus IV of Paraíba Federal University (UFPB), where he coordinates the Arandu Visual Anthropology Laboratory. He has conducted research into the use of the image in the anthropological works of Curt Nimuendaju, Roberto Cardoso de Oliveira and Margaret Mead. Address: Caixa Postal 5072 - João Pessoa - PB - CEP 58051-970. Telephone: 83/ 99925109 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Article translated by David Rodgers.
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- MARCUS, George. "Identidades passadas, presents e emergentes: requisites para etnografias sobre a modernidade no final do século XX ao nível mundial". Revista de Antropologia, São Paulo, USP, n. 34, pp. 197-221.
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- MEAD, Margaret. 1972. Blackberry Winter. My earlier years. New York: William Morrow.
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- MEAD, Margaret. 1977. Letters from the field 1925-1975 New York, Hagerstown, San Francisco, London: Harper & Row.
- MEAD, Margaret and BATESON, Gregory. 1962 . Balinese Character. A Photographic Analysis New York: Special Publications of New York Academy of Sciences, vol. 2.
- MEAD, Margaret and BATESON, Gregory. 1976. "'For God's sake, Margaret', conversation with Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead" (by Stewart Brand). The CoEvolution Quarterly, California, University of Pensylvania, 1976, June, no. 10 (published by the Whole Earth Catalog), pp. 32-44.
- MEAD, Margaret and BYERS, Paul. 1968. The Small Conference. An Innovation in Communication Paris and the Hague: Mouton, Publications of the International Social Science Council No. 9.
- MEAD, Margaret and GORDON, Joan (ed.). 1976. Margaret Mead: The Complete Bibliography, 1925-1975 The Hague/ Paris: Mouton.
- MEAD, Margaret and HEYMAN, Ken. 1965. Family New York: Macmillan Company.
- MEAD, Margaret and HEYMAN, Ken. 1975. World Enough. Rethinking the Future Boston: Little, Brown & Cia.
- MEAD, Margaret and McGREGOR, Frances. 1951. Growth and Culture. A Photographic Study of Balinese Childhood New York: Putnam, 1951.
- MEAD, Margaret and MÉTRAUX, Rhoda. 1970. A Way of Seeing. Essays originally published in Redbook magazine 1962-1969 New York: McCall Publishing.
- MEMMI, Albert. 1977  Retrato do colonizado precedido pelo retrato do colonizador Translated by Roland Corbisier and Mariza Pinto Coelho. Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra.
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- BRINGER, Carl e FELLNER, Anton. Wir dürfen wieder indianer sein (Brazil-PE, 1989) 30 min.
- GARDNER, Robert. Dead Birds (New Guinea, 1963) 83 min.
- LOPES, Sérgio Leite et al Tecido Memória (Brazil-PE, 2008) 70 min.
- MEAD, Margaret. Character formation in different cultures (New York, New York University film library):
- - A Balinese Family, 1951, 17 min.
- - Bathing Babies in Three Cultures, 1954, 9 min.
- - Childhood Rivalry in Bali and New Guinea, 1954, 20 min.
- - First Days in the Life of a New Guinea Baby, 1952, 19 min.
- - Karba's First Years, 1952, 20 min.
- - Trance and Dance in Bali, 1952, 20 min.
- - Learning to Dance in Bali, 1978, 13 min.
- MENDONÇA, João Martinho Braga. Passagem e permanência: três ensaios em torno do sete de setembro em Rio Tinto (Brazil-PB, 2012) 18 min.
- ROUCH, Jean. Horendi (Níger, 1972) 72 min.
- ROUCH, Jean. Margaret Mead: a portrait by a friend (USA, 1977) 30 min.
Publication in this collection
21 Jan 2013
Date of issue
29 Apr 2012
30 June 2012