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reality to such a degree that it is often impossible to discern any resemblance between lived life and the cultural formations being described. For MacDougall, the ethical potential of ethnographic film and photography lies in its way of returning us to the concrete and detailed features of persons and their environments. Visual media have, as Castaing-Taylor also argues, a capacity for exceeding theory and for ‘showing anthropologists’ purchase on the lived experience of their subjects to be rather more precarious than they would like to believe’ (1996: 88

in Descending with angels
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, sacrifice, and submission of the human subject to an all-encompassing external structuring. If such a finite scheme of analytical thought has been attributed to the worlds of others, then somewhere along the way I must have left behind the ethical writing propagated by writers such as Levinas and Merleau-Ponty (see Chapters 1 and 3 ). Skimming through my notebooks and the many hours of film material, I am sometimes drawn towards other visions and opportunities that never reached the editing table or the pages of this book. Small details in

in Descending with angels
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-​American perspective on dealing with these issues. Also, increasing mobility between countries through the Erasmus exchange of students and academics, allied to media representations, demonstrated that the Catholicism of France, Spain and Italy was very different to that of Ireland, where Church and State were closely allied. The availability of films, books, discussions and newspapers that took more secular positions on issues that had been seen as firmly within the Catholic Church’s purview gradually eroded the hegemonic certainties and offered alternatives. The hierarchy

in Tracing the cultural legacy of Irish Catholicism