A riot, a market, a pilgrimage, a beating: aerial photography and anthropological method
1st prize winner of the Friends of Fondren Library Graduate Research Awards, 2013.
Aerial photography has, not without justification, been linked to projects of violence and domination. Yet recent scholarship in visual studies has called for an attention to the actual practices whereby aerial photographs are produced and put to use. This essay traces the history of aerial photography as a field method in cultural anthropology, highlighting the plural, deeply contextual nature of its applications. The essay concludes by sketching out three genres of aerial photography that are relevant to the anthropological project today, modes of seeing that harness the potential of technology while avoiding the totalizing logic of panopticism.