Visual and creative ethnography competition


Following the success of Australian Anthropology Society (AAS) / Australian Network of Student Anthropologists (ANSA) Photography Competitions held in previous years, ANSA are pleased to announce that in 2018 we will be opening the competition to other forms of visual and creative ethnography.

We will be accepting original images (including photography, visual art, and mixed media), film, and multimedia that expresses an anthropological idea or ethnographic narrative. The entrants, current and recent students of anthropology who are members of both AAS and ANSA, are asked to reflect on how the use of visual and/or creative ethnography practice has contributed to their anthropological knowledge.

The competition will be judged by visual anthropologists Jennifer Deger and Melinda Hinkson. There will be four category prizes, each of $150, and a selection of entries will be showcased at the 2018 AAS conference and on the AAS and ANSA websites and social media platforms.



The entry deadline has been extended to the 27th August 2018. 


2018 AAS & ANSA Visual and Creative ethnography information sheet

2018 ANSA-AAS Visual and creative ethnography competition entry form



About Visual and Creative Ethnography

Deger (2009, p.2) argues that “making—and viewing—art is a critical and productive form of social engagement”. The diverse ways in which people engage with, experience, and represent their worlds may be fruitfully examined through creative and visual collaborations between ethnographers and field participants.

Visual and creative ethnography emerges from a methodological outlook that sees the use of audio-visual, visual, and other multi-media methods in social science as not merely a record of data, but as potential for a “practice based”, “practice-led”, or “performative” mode of enquiry (Gray 1996; Haseman 2006; Michael et al. 2015). Here, open-ended and multi-faceted questions emerge from and are explored through creative practice.

As the ethnographer moves, sees, hears, and interacts in ways that are enabled and constricted by the tools and methodology of creative practice, a rich and unique form of anthropological knowledge emerges (Cubero p.69; Rouch 1975). In this way, exploration through the visual combines with, and in some cases extends, other forms of sensory, bodily, and affective knowledge produced in participant observation (Pink 2007).

At the same time, creative collaborations between ethnographers and ethnographic participants afford the possibility of exploring the complex inner worlds of emotion, imagination, and memory (Irving 2011).   A further dimension is the viewer who engages in creative ethnographic works, whose possible experiences and interpretation influence and are influenced by the anthropological inquiry (Macdougall 1998, p.64). Visual techniques thereby allow for a re-examination of the interaction between anthropologist, participant, the products of ethnography, and other cultural narratives circulating within the modern flurry of media.


Competition Details

In this competition, we ask ANSA members to reflect on the potentiality of creative and visual practice in the production of anthropological knowledge.

We welcome submissions of audio-visual, photographic, and art works that go beyond the visual as a form of documentation to “explore how all types of material, intangible, spoken, performed narratives and discourses are interwoven with and made meaningful in relation to social relationships, practices, and individual experiences” (Pink 2007 p.9).

There are four (4) entry categories, and there will be one (1) winner for each category:

  1. Film and multimedia: <5 minutes
  2. Film and multimedia: <30 mins
  3. Film: full-feature length
  4. Photography, photo-essays, and visual art.

We urge participants to think about what makes their work anthropological in its essence. In keeping with a critical and reflexive approach to creative and visual practice in ethnography, entrants will be asked to write:

  1. A brief description (<150 words) of what the work depicts. This should include:
    • The year/s the work was created.
    • Places depicted and cultural or social groups involved in the making.
    • The actions, events, or themes depicted.
    • The names (if appropriate) of any collaborators.
    • Any additional information
  2. A brief exegesis (<500 words) on how the process of creating or filming contributed to your anthropological understanding of the life-worlds or themes under investigation. You may consider:
    • What themes emerged through the creation?
    • How does the creative practice relate to your broader research?
    • What aspect of the “Imponderabilia of everyday life” does this creative work and the practice of creating it bring to light? In what ways?
    • How did the methodology influence the production of the creative work? How did the methodology influence the production of anthropological knowledge?

Entries open 1st August 2018 and close 20th August 2018. Winners will be selected by our esteemed judges, Jennifer Deger and Melinda Hinkson, and will be announced on Thursday 13th September 2018 as part of the Anthropology day celebrations during Social Sciences Week.

A selection of entries will be showcased at the Australian Anthropological Society (AAS) conference held in Cairns in December 2018. Images and short films may also appear online on the AAS website and social media platforms, and online on the ANSA website and social media platforms.



Eligibility Criteria

  1. The completed application form and creative work/link to creative work must be submitted via email by midnight (AEST) Monday 20th August 2018.
  2. The application email subject line must be “Visual and Creative Ethnography Competition”.
  3. Images should be attached in the email. Large format multimedia works may be included as a link to a streaming platform (eg. Vimeo) or via a cloud platform (eg. Dropbox) with links and instructions for access clearly stated.
  4. All applicants must be members of the Australian Anthropological Society (AAS) or have submitted an application for membership to this organisation on or prior to the final submission date. To become an AAS member, go to:
  5. Applicants must be members of the Australian Network of Student Anthropologists (ANSA). To become an ANSA member, go to:
  6. Photographs must be of a sufficiently high resolution to enable them to be displayed on a large screen at the AAS 2018 conference.
  7. It is expected that any individuals who could be personally identified within the submitted photographs have given their informed consent with regard to the use of the image in a public context.
  8. Photographs entered into the competition must not have been previously entered into the AAS/ANSA Photography Competition.
  9. The current AAS and ANSA executive are not eligible to enter the Photography Competition.

Judging Criteria

Winners of the ANSA visual and creative ethnography competition will be selected by our judges at their discretion, on the basis of both the visual work and the written exegesis.  The judging criteria are as follows:

  1. The eligibility requirements outlined above have been met.
  2. Submitted works have both creative/artistic merit and respond to anthropological questions.
  3. The exegesis engages in a thoughtful way with the question of how your visual and/or creative practice contributes to anthropological knowledge.

Value of Prizes

  1. Film and multimedia: <5 minutes: $150 AUD
  2. Film and multimedia: <30 mins:            $150 AUD
  3. Film: full-feature length: $150 AUD
  4. Photography, photo-essays, and visual art: $150 AUD

In addition, all entrants will have the opportunity to be showcased at the AAS 2018 conference, and online via AAS and ANSA websites and social media platforms.

Conditions of Entry

As a condition of entry into the AAS/ANSA Photography Competition, participants agree and acknowledge that their photographs do not infringe the copyright of any third party.  Participants agree and acknowledge that their photographs may be displayed online including but not limited to either or both the AAS and ANSA webpages and/or in any other non-commercial printed literature published by ANSA or the AAS.

We endeavor wherever possible to acknowledge the photographer by name and title of the photograph when their image is used.

In submitting an entry, the applicant acknowledges and agrees that the judges’ decisions will be final.  Applicants may submit one work in each category. Applicants may enter multiple categories; however, each entry must be submitted in a separate email accompanied by a unique application form.  Please check the eligibility criteria for more information.

Submission Process

All entries must be submitted by email with a completed copy of this entry form. Digital files should be attached. Large format multimedia works may be included as a link to a streaming platform (eg. Vimeo) or via a cloud platform (eg. Dropbox) with links and instructions for access clearly stated.

All entries are to be sent to with the subject of “Visual and Creative Ethnography Competition”.


Works Cited

Cubero, C. (2008). Audio-visual evidence and anthropological knowledge. In Chau, L., High, C., and Lau, T. (Eds), How do we know? Evidence, ethnography, and the making of anthropological knowledge. Newcastle: Cambridge scholars publishing.
Deger, J. (2009). Making interventions. In Aird, M., Barry, C., Biddlem J., Napurrurla Tasman, R., Marrawakamirr, S., Gurrumurruwuy, D., Bukulatjpi, Deger, J., Redmond, A., von Sturmer, J. Interventions: experiments between art and ethnography. Sydney: Macqurie University
Gray, C. (1996). Inquiry through practice: developing appropriate research strategies’. Pp. 82-95 in Strandman, P. (Ed). No guru, no method? Discussion on art and design research, Helsinki: University of Art and Design Helsinki UIAH.
Haseman, B. (2006). A manifesto for performative research. Media international Australia: incorporating culture and policy. 118. Pp. 98-106.
Irving, A. (2011). Strange distance: towards and anthropology of interior dialogue. Medical anthropology quarterly. 25 (1). Pp.22-44.
Macdougall, D. (1998). Visual ethnography and the ways of knowing. Pp. 61-92, in L. Castaing-Tayor (ed). Transcultural Cinema. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Michael, M., Costello, B., Mooney-Somers, J., and Kerrige, I. (2015). Manifesto on art, design, and social science—method as speculative event. Leonardo. 48 (2). Pp.190-191.
Pink, S. (2007) Doing visual ethnography. London. Sage publications.
Rouch J. (1975). The camera and the man. In Hockings, P. (Ed) Principles of visual anthropology. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.