Undergraduate Degree




DV2012 An Introduction to Visual Anthropology

[Studio Contact Hours: 39 hours; Pre-requisites: NIL; Academic Unit: 3.0]




Academic Unit


3 AU

Course Description


Learning Objective

To deliver to the students a lecture-based introduction to visual anthropology. To give them an overview of the basics of anthropology through visual media and introduce them to the idea of expressing culture through visual media.


This course covers a basic understanding of culture and how it might be expressed through visual media. It will cover the process of how film, advertising, television and other visual media can be interpreted and translated and how it might express culturally integrated images. The course will introduce the idea of culture from an anthropological perspective and will examine patterns of production, marriage and family, social organization, social change and the textual analysis of visual media.

Course Outline




• Introduction to the course

2 - 6

• Overview of the basics of anthropology and visuality

• Survey of the visual media used in anthropology 

• Introduction to doing anthropology

• Introduction of concepts of culture

• Textual analysis of film 

• Deconstruction of the ethnographic documentary 

• Embedding culture into images

• Achievable concept, textual analysis of the image and the production of images within a cultural context


• Mid Sem review of assignments

8 - 12

• Introduce patterns of production

• Introducing distribution and consumption 

• Alternative recourses and economies

• Introducing marriage and family

• Survey of traditional models of family and alternative types 

• Social organisation, Kinship, groups and power relations

• Social change, causes and effect on patterns of production, family and social organization


• Final assignments

Learning Outcome

Having covered the basics of social anthropology and visuality, the students will be better equipped to identify specific areas of interest and specialisation within that process.

Student Assessment

  1. Final Assessment: 30%

  2. Continuous Assessment: 70% (of which at least 15% is participation)

Continuous assessment components may include:

  • Exercises and project

  • Individual, group and team-based assignments


Recommended Reading

  1. Heider, Karl G., Seeing Anthropology: cultural anthropology through film, 2nd ed. Needham heights MA. Pearson Education Co., 2006

  2. John Collier, Jr., Malcolm Collier, Visual Anthropology: Photography As A Research Method, University of New Mexico Press, 1986

  3. Eds., Leslie Devereaux, Roger Hillman, Fields Of Vision: Essays In Film Studies, Visual Anthropology and Photography, University of California Press,1995