Fakultäten » Philosophische Fakultät » Sozialanthropologie und Empirische Kulturwissenschaft, Institut für » Völkerkundemuseum » Prof. Dr. Mareile Flitsch » Dick

Completed research project

Title / Titel Photography as Embodied Practice in Anthropological Fieldwork.
The Case of Florence Weiss’ Leica Photographs of Palimbei
(Papua New Guinea), 1972-1974
PDF Abstract (PDF, 14 KB)
Summary / Zusammenfassung Situated between the field of visual anthropology, its history as well as embodiment of technology approaches, this PhD research addresses the role of fieldwork photography within western/European anthropological research practice. Taking the example of the oeuvre of the Swiss anthropologist Florence Weiss and the photographs she took with her Leica in Papua New Guinea between 1972 and 1974, it will be shown, that photographs resulting out of fieldwork are often far more than the assumed by-product of modern social anthropological research production enabled by certain technological development. Lying at the watershed towards amateur documentation through 35mm cameras, Florence Weiss stands for a generation of photographing ethnographers that used this new technology with apparently unbiased but considerable diligence throughout their fieldwork, applying the photographic technology of the Leica M3 to the area of anthropological fieldwork.
Considering the camera as a technological tool for framing, envisioning, selecting and even interpreting the field, it becomes apparent that the photographs she took can no longer be taken as mere documentation of her field experience but rather as a reflection of a highly regulated practice that informed her scientific endeavour to a considerable degree. The aim of this research is to untangle the different parameters that shaped her practice and take them into closer account. By doing so not only the practice of fieldwork photography will be reconsidered but also some gaps of this part anthropology`s unwritten and still poorly problematized visual history can be closed.

This PhD research evolves out of the exhibition “Kinder im Augenblick. Florence Weiss – Fotografien vom Sepik”, that aimed to take a closer look at 60 photographs of the above-mentioned collection.
Publications / Publikationen Kinder im Augenblick. Florence Weiss – Fotografien vom Sepik. Edited by: Flitsch, Mareile. Zürich, 2015. ISBN 978-3-7165-1818-2.
Keywords / Suchbegriffe Fieldwork Photography, Photographic History of Anthropology, Photography as Practice, Photography as Technology
Project leadership and contacts /
Projektleitung und Kontakte
lic. phil. Michèle Dick (Project Leader)
Other links to external web pages
Funding source(s) /
Unterstützt durch
Universität Zürich (position pursuing an academic career)
Duration of Project / Projektdauer May 2014 to Dec 2018