Visual Sociology invites us to vision the world in the new ways, to examine and explore visual circles of conversations. This session invites papers from researchers who work in the broad field of Visual Sociology. This is an invitation to open up a space for dialogue, debate, and dissent, to showcase creative critical engagements with various topics the collection of visual data in the field (in archives, photo albums, media, art, websites etc.) the production of visual materials by the researcher (photography, videodocumentaries and material works) and participant created visualities (art, Photovoice, media) which engage at local and global levels. This session is an inclusive multidisciplinary discussion on how the visual has the potential to energize relationships across communities, make new connections and highlight ways of understanding visual sociology and visual research so that people can speak with one another, listen, learn, and see together. Tags: Visual Sociology
Organizer: Gloria Johnston, University of New Brunswick
Akintunde Ilesanmi Akinleye, Carleton University
In reflecting upon the effect of anthropocene, I explore the impacts of fossil fuel as well as the politics of modular crude oil production in Nigeria, specifically in the delta region where paradoxical damage to the environment remains colossal. Dissected through framing, structural, and post-structural theoretical lenses, I envision the possibilities of the_ photographic image as a proof to the different layers of politics of oil in Nigeria, explicating the contributions of various social-political actors to a neoliberal consumption that is, in turn, consuming itself._ Although the absolute material accuracy of the_ photographic image remains a contested terrain in theoretical debates, as regards its veracity to truth and reality, the notion of the_ photograph as empirical proof or as witness offering descriptive testimony and memory, rest upon the view of reality as external to human objective appraisal. Thus, if reality is somehow there, present, external and available for objective recording, then the extent to which the photograph offers accurate reference of particular places or events, becomes pertinent. The location of the_ photographic image in neolibral oil production cuts across many boundaries but largely marked by sublimed aesthetics, politics and apocalyptic destruction. While both the sublimed and apocalyptic are situated in contextual construction, this essay seeks to explicate the line between reality and construction by rendering a catalogue of photographic experience that exposes the politics of a microcosm within the global. If the effects of Anthropocene loom large, suggesting that the earth is nearing its end, the stillness of the photographic images perhaps raises a few fundamental questions in its contemporary discourse. What role does the photographic image play in environmental history and oil politics? What memories and perceptions does the_ photographic image provoke in neoliberal oil consumption? How will these perceptions help in untangling its effects on human development, particularly in Africa?
Gloria Johnston, University of New Brunswick
In his popular overview of the identity/sexual subculture of age-play, Rulof (2011) offers a range of how individuals are reliving childhood, rewriting it, practicing care, exploring different gendered childhoods, performing, and relaxing through regression. In various routines and behaviors, the notion of play in this sense does not mean “something trivial or frivolous. Rather, age players take age-play very seriously as something that is part of, or informs their ways of experiencing and making sense of themselves” (Rulof 2011, p. 7). This paper offers two examples of narrative and visual descriptions of age play by two transgender identified participants who also participate in little/big culture. Both individuals use age-play as a resource for regression, safety and rest amongst pathways to reshape and reclaim aspects of childhood denied to them based on assigned gender at birth. To understand and explore a situated trans identity, the shaping, reshaping and emergent self are common themes. This aspect of age-play emerged from a recent Photovoice study and is presented from their perspective with their voice and selected images as central.
Ofer Berenstein, University of Calgary
The Maple leaf is one of Canada’s most prominent visual symbols. As such, it is frequently used in various public announcement campaigns. One such domain is that of the political world, and more specifically, Get Out the Vote campaigns. However, little, if at all, is known about the reception of the Maple leaf, in political contexts, by Canadians. Following an extensive photo-elicitation based audience reception study, this paper reports of the main findings regarding the reception of the Maple leaf by Canadians of voting age, and in doing so reveals interesting findings regarding Canadian citizens’ perception of national identity, culture, and politics. The paper starts by charting the more, and less, successful instances of using the Maple leaf as a national and political context provider in Get Out the Vote posters. Following that review, the paper proceeds to demonstrate how the decoding of the symbol by interviewees is directly tied with and may be explained by, two competing concepts of democracy -- the realist concept and the ideological concept. To that end, interviewees who hold a realist concept of democracy tended to consider the symbol as a marker of nationalistic context and specific physical acts of political engagement, while interviewees who hold an ideological concept of democracy considered the symbol in a non-temporal context, as an element that represents being Canadian -- as a socio-cultural reference group. In conclusion, the paper points to a growing need to reconsider the uses and misuses of the Maple leaf in public announcement campaigns. The paper also offers practical ways to use this understanding in the planning and execution of future public announcement campaigns.