• Offered by School of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Anthropology
  • Areas of interest Anthropology
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person

Serious sociological consideration of photography languished until the 1970s when the work of Susan Sontag, John Berger and Roland Barthes started what has since become an increasingly important focus of interest. Among the issues of theoretical interest have been the relationship between images and the attitudes of the time in which they were produced and/or circulated, and how this information and meaning is encoded in the images. Less attention has been paid to reception for obvious reasons: it is a difficult and time consuming task to establish what actual readers get from any image but some strategies for over coming this have been proposed.

In this seminar course we will examine a wide range of topics including, methodological issues in the analysis of photographs, reception of images, colonial photography of ethnographic subjects, indigenous uses of photographs and photography, practical issues in field photography, and the applied use of photography. Each participant in the seminar will carry out a research project on a topic negotiated with the course convener, and will present the results as a hour long seminar in the final weeks of the semester.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

By participating in this course you should expect the following outcomes:

  • A knowledge of the social history of photography
  • Familiarity with the main approaches to the analysis of photographs
  • An awareness of the core dabates in the photography of anthropological subjects
  • An appreciation of photography from a cross-cultural perspective
  • An awareness of some of the methodological issues involved in the use of photographs and photography in research
  • The experience of having carried out an analysis of a set of photographic images using at least one of these methodologies
  • An ability to read photographs more skilfully

Indicative Assessment

Essay (40%), research project (50%) and course participation (10%).

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Preliminary Reading

Sontag, S. 1977. On photography. Penguin: Harmondsworth.

Pinney, C. and Peterson N. (eds). 2003. Photography’s other histories.  Durham: Duke University Press.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $3216
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $4590
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

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