Hi, I am writing an essay on our attitudes towards death and how this has influenced photography. I have been trying to analyse this text for a while and am struggling...!
"The early 20th Century saw a shift in the way anthropology created and consumed images of death. This is not merely because of technical innovations in photography itself. Rather it reflected shifts in the theoretical orientation and methodological basis of the discipline. Anthropologists engaged increasingly in direct fieldwork, living with the subjects of their study for an extended period, becoming conversant with indigenous language and world-view.
The photographic possibilities would appear enornous. Field experience brought the anthropologist into direct contact with the extended social experience of death and opportunity to photograph not only its artifacts, such as Beatice Blackwood's photographs of the Canadian Northwest Coast peoples, but the whole narrative of mortuary ritual. Yet in many ways death actually encapsulates the dilemmas of the relationship between anthropology and photography and the limits of the realist snap-shot style as visual interrogation. For despite its immediacy, its empirical authority, photography presents a fragmented, objectifying surface, whereas depth, social coherence and integration were the concern of the emerging anthropological canon. Photography was condemned by its own nature to be preceived as a visual notebook of little direct analytical value.
So if photography ceased to be the link between observation and interpretation, it also shifted function, becoming a visual notebook for legitimating and confirming anthropological authority. Whereas in comparative classificatory modes of nineteenth century, the use of material evidence to create 'types' was relatively overt, one sees, later, a complex absorption of photography into the creation of 'typical' behaviour. How does one translate the specific into the general theoretical significance? Individual death becomes absorbed into a general explocation of life cycle or religious belief. Further, while mortuary ritual was itself 'folklorised' as curious custom and photographed as 'salvage ethnography', its meaning tended to be presented not in terms of death itself, but its relation to other social phenomena such as kinship and economics. While photographs articulated a clear narrative structure of appearance, written texts of scientific truth, rather than photographic expression of the specific ecperience, told about death."
Sorry its long winded!
Your help would be much appreciated.
Last edited by guinnessgal; 23-Jan-2008 at 14:46. Reason: spelling
Are you going to PAY someone to do that? Ha Ha.
Actually, if you take EACH paragraph and re-write it into an outline form, the meaning will be revealed.