Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges
Invited - Oral Presentation Session
This paper examines a visual anthropology course that introduces anthropology to undergraduates at an urban campus through collaborative work with university neighbors often across significant difference—age, class, gender, race and life experience. Inspired by the conversational approaches of ethnographic filmmakers Jean Rouch and David MacDougall, the class uses cameras (and camera-devices such as mobile phones) to frame occasions for dialogues of shared curiosity. The careful preparation, intentional engagement, thoughtful reflexivity and openness to serendipity involved in creating and filming these contexts model common aspects of anthropological fieldwork. The products of the semester’s many “encounters-over-camera” are shared with neighbors in a semi-public film festival. For six years the course described in this paper has brought together hundreds of undergraduates and community members into conversations—contributing to understanding between the university and its neighborhood and offering undergraduates a deeper understanding of the methods and values of anthropological approaches.