We’ve featured the newish blog anthropologies here before – its thematic issues are always worth a read. The January 1 edition was particularly interesting because its theme, Visual Anthropology, is of keen interest to the department here since we are currently hiring in that subdiscipline.
But it was of particular interest because one of our distinguished alumna, Dr. Sara Perry, has a short essay entitled Fluid Fields: The (Unspoken) Intersections of Visual Anthropology and Archaeology. Sara writes an elegant account of how her long-standing research interest in how archaeologists create, consume, and circulate images matters within a holistic anthropological project:
However, on the other side, amongst audiences of archaeologists, I am often similarly loath to declare myself to be a visual anthropologist. This is because I have repeatedly been challenged by both my archaeological students and colleagues for doing research that is purportedly “not real archaeology.” My response to such a baseless statement is that archaeologists are—and always have been—skilled users and makers of multi-media, capitalising on various visual anthropological methodologies to facilitate or augment their work.
It’s almost a manifesto for how archaeologists and visual anthropologists need to learn from each other, not so much through shared attention to material culture, but through shared attention to images as artifacts. It’d be hard to find a better example of the niche that our department’s thematic approach to graduate studies is designed to fill.
Sara’s work is best known to us here in the form of her brilliant M.A. thesis on visual representations of the First Peopling of North America, Australia and the Pacific (downloadable PDF!). Since leaving us, she went to complete her Ph.D. in 2011 at the University of Southampton, working with Professor Stephanie Moser, and as of this month she has started as lecturer at the University of York, U.K. Congratulations to Sara on her new position!
Perry, Sara (2009). Fractured media: Challenging the dimensions of archaeology’s typical visual modes of engagement. Archaeologies: Journal of the World Archaeological Congress 5(3): 389-415