The Australian Network of Student Anthropologists (ANSA) announces the ANSA Visual Ethnography Competition for 2020!

Intellectual property courtesy of ANSA 2018 and Dr Stephanie Betz.

What is 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.

About the competition:

In this competition, we ask ANSA members to reflect on the potentiality of creative and visual practice in the production of anthropological knowledge. And in whatever form that might take. We will be accepting original images (including photography, visual art, and mixed media), film, and multimedia that expresses an anthropological idea or ethnographic narrative. 

It should be informed by your anthropological sensibility; the kind of image that you wouldn’t have made before, or known how to value.

It might be a new way of seeing, a moment of insight, a decentring, a sensory encounter with other worlds, or a moment of social engagement.

More than illustration, how does this image somehow shift our possibilities of apprehending the social in its complex particularities?

We are looking for images that show an anthropological understanding, not images or video that was taken simply to provide illustration for a non-visual ethnography.

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).

Four prizes at $150 each, kindly donated by the Australian Anthropological Society (AAS).


  • Film and multimedia (must be longer than 3 mins).
  • Visual art (graphic art, drawing and manipulated photos, etc.)
  • Photography and photo-essays
  • People's Choice


  • Associate Professor Lisa Wynn (AAS President).  Head of the Anthropology Department at Macquarie University in Sydney.
  • Associate Professor Jennifer Deger (AAS President Emerita). Tropical Leader (Research) in the College of Art, Society and Education, James Cook University; thematic leader of Creativity and Innovation at The Cairns Institute; founding member of Miyarrka Media, an arts collective based in the community of Gapuwiyak, NT.
  • Dr Sophie Chao (AAS Secretary). Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Sydney’s School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry and the Charles Perkins Centre, and an Honorary Postdoctoral Fellow at Macquarie University.

How to enter:

Provide a visual image, moving or still, of something related to your fieldwork or research interest by completing this online submission form. Submissions must be minimum 500x500 px and maximum 1800x1800. Upload size via the website is a maximum of 100mb, however larger file sizes may be submitted by downloading and completing this form: ANSA-AAS Visual and creative ethnography competition form 2020 and emailing it to

You must also provide a 200-word statement on how this represents your field site or an aspect of anthropology in which you are interested.

Entry closes 18th October, 2020 at 11:59pm AEST.

Conditions of entry:

You must be a member of ANSA.

ANSA membership is free. You must be a registered member or have submitted a membership request by the due date. We encourage new members to participate. We also encourage those who have been interested in ANSA to see this competition as an entry into joining our community. 

You are also welcomed to join AAS if you wish. However due to current economic restrictions, AAS membership is not a pre-condition for this COVID-19 affected year of entry.

How to join ANSA

How to join AAS

Entrants must also declare that:

  1. The submitted work is original, is theirs, and that they hold the copyright. Applicants will be immediately disqualified if they submit a photo that is not theirs and to which they do not own the copyright.
  2. They have permission from subjects featured in the entry to share their image.
  3. They have obtained consent where certain cultural observances may be violated by sharing the work (e.g. sharing of private/restricted ceremonies, or images of deceased members of a community).
  4. In submitting, the entrant also agrees to let AAS and ANSA reproduce the images across multiple platforms when we announce the winning photo and in the future promotion of AAS / ANSA activities. These platforms include but are not limited to e-mail communications, our websites, Twitter, Instagram, and print and online materials promoting AAS and ANSA events and activities. Applicants will, of course, retain copyright and we will identify the photographer by name every time we reuse a photo.


Thank you to Dr Stephanie Betz and the 2018 ANSA Exec team for their support and collaboration in developing this competition and its materials.