there has been an unacknowledged relationship of Manchester
anthropology that Max Gluckman promoted, and in which F. G. Bailey
was trained, to a small network of Melanesianists, myself included.
The chapter begins with a brief account of the orientation and
interests of what I shall call ‘Mancunian Realism’,
Gluckman’s actor-centred methodology. I then appraise the
proximate ‘reality’. The problem of the elusive and
variable interweaving of scales was to become one of the major
challenges of my later work.
It is also important to note that
‘scale’ refers as much to time – to history
– as it does to space. I have come to refer to my own
approach in anthropology as historical realism (Smith 2014 ). If we are to speak of social
(Harley, 1988 ; Knorr-Cetina and Amann, 1990 ) and as objects that invoke the users’ attention in their everyday practices (Vertesi, 2008 ). In particular, concerning the problem of representation in science, Sergio Sismondo and Nicholas Chrisman's analysis on realism (2001) provides us with necessary guidance. Using a map as both a metaphor and a means of interpretation, they established a metaphysical frame for approaching reality based on deflationary philosophy, arguing that scientific representations are maps embedded in a particular kind of practice and for a
Notes on developing a photo-ethnographic practice in Basilicata
and brown peoples as subject (Ruby 1996 ).
It makes more sense, then, to consider what constitutes photographing as an anthropologist rather than an anthropological photograph. A focus on the approach also has the benefit of avoiding scholasticism and keeping open a multitude of genres and styles that each situation and research question might call for, including those outside of realism and even outside documentary photography. Patrick Sutherland expresses himself along similar lines when considering the key aspect of photo-ethnography to be
York: Berghahn Books, 2008), pp. 162–80.
Ibid., p. 164.
Foucault, Society Must Be Defended, p. 259.
C. Gerlach, Extremely Violent Societies: Mass Violence in the Twentieth
Century World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp.
Q. Meillassoux, After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency (London: Continuum, 2008 – original French edition 2006); for
discussion of Meillassoux see L. Bryant, N. Srnicek & G. Harman (eds),
The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism (Melbourne: Re-Press, 2011); G. Harman, Quentin Meillassoux
spirit possession cult. Perhaps Umm Omar was also, like Henley, asserting the value of cinematic realism and photographic documentation as sometimes being a more powerful standpoint for resistance to oppression than the fragmented and fragmentary techniques of montage. Ethnographic filmmaking and montage is an almost impossible yet necessary balancing act that occurs along this stretch between the visible and the invisible, the expressible and inexpressible; between witnessing those things that should be seen, disrupting the ways in which we have been taught to see
striving does not result in ‘robust counterpublics’? And what if
it does not at all aim at forming such counterpublics? Striving can, instead, be
considered as an ethical issue. As Joel Robbins writes in a seminal article on the
anthropology of the good,
As with the construction of the good, there is a strong temptation to dismiss people’s investments in realising the good in time as mere utopianism, to smother
their hopes analytically with what Clifford has recently called our own ‘wet-blanket
“realism”’ (2009: 241). But if part of the point of the anthropology of the
's methods of montage are helpful for developing an understanding of the shock effects of these YouTube videos, we need to look elsewhere to understand what happens in the vacuum of visibility that emerges beyond shock.
In visual anthropology, many filmmakers emphasise the virtues of careful observation. Here the image is often appreciated for its mimetic, indexical realism, and for the way it shows us an abundance of visual details that are often otherwise left unnoticed. Yet several filmmakers and scholars have criticised this realist approach
Nostalgia and al-zaman al-gamiil (the ‘beautiful old
‘progressive’), together with numerous images of
industrial and construction sites. The video clip advertises a modern Egypt
that is in a state of constant movement.13 It is as if the regime has borrowed
the exact icons, language, and symbols of the Soviet socialist realism era, but
by this time, after the lapse of a century, the theme lends itself heavily to
kitsch. In short, the remarkable absence of irony in this footage is profoundly
This brings me to my next point, namely, how the state propaganda has
recently invested in video clips for purposes of self
borrowing symbols of socialist realism
that contradict the obvious state of the globalised region. Meanwhile, the
Islamist camp seems to be fixated on a golden period of the early years of
Islam. The complex ideology of the counter-revolutionary camp encompasses
both of these doppelgängers, as the two share the elective affinity towards
authoritarianism. Both camps have worked hard against the forces of civil
society, which advocates the reinstating of human rights, workers’ rights,
social justice, and a renewed sense of citizenship. Ironically, the two forces are