Visual Anthropology


1) To approach and define the different uses of Image in Anthropology through the study of Documentary Film as a cinematographic "genre" and, at the same time, the understanding of ethnographic investigation practices.
2) To understand the relations between the Documentary Film History as a style of filmmaking based in the ideas of truth and authenticity and the ways academic Anthropology used this ideas in its uses of image: photography and ethnographic film.
3) To stimulate ways of seeing and critical relativisation of the ways image has being used in its different ways. The historical perspective will help to understand specific cultural and social scientific and /or artistic visual productions.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Catarina Sousa Brandão Alves Costa


Weekly - 4

Total - 168

Teaching language





Barnow, Eric, Documentary. A History of Non-fiction Film. Oxford University Press, 1974.
Mac Dougall, David, Transcultural Cinema, ed by Taylor, L. Ed. Princeton Univ. Press, 1998.
Nichols, Bill, Representing Reality – Issues and Concepts in Documentary. Indiana University Press, 1991.
Slonowski, J. e Grant, B.Keith, Documenting the documentary –Close readings of documentary Film and Video, 1998.
Stoller, Paul, The Cinematic Griot. The Ethnography of Jean Rouch ( cap. 12 “Rouch, Theory and Ethnographic Film”). University of Chicago
Press, 1992.

Teaching method

Classes are divided into two parts. In the first one, we do the theoretical presentation of a specific problem related to the historical context of the production in documentary and ethnographic films. In the second part we will project film and photographic material, ending with discussion and participation of the students.

Evaluation method

Available soon

Subject matter

I) Documentary History, its origins in the final of the 1920´s and the experiments done in the 1960´s with Cinéma Vérité and the Direct Cinema.
II) Visual Anthropology and the beginning of film uses in different schools and traditions (France, Germany, the UK and the EUA). The place of film in the context of academic Anthropology.
III) The portuguese context. Ethnographic Museum and its arquives. The images of the rural world in cinematographic portuguese documentary.
IV) The visual culture: photography and video as an object for Anthropology


Programs where the course is taught: