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I Am Not a Camera: On Visual Politics and Method. A Response to Roy Germano

  • Dvora Yanow

Abstract

No observational method is “point and shoot.” Even bracketing interpretive methodologies and their attendant philosophies, a researcher—including an experimentalist—always frames observation in terms of the topic of interest. I cannot ever be “just a camera lens,” not as researcher and not as photographer. Framing research “shots,” an observer always includes some features of the research question terrain while excluding others—of necessity, given human limitations and the partiality, always, of what we can know and the knowledge we can claim. With “shutters” open, we are never passive, always thinking, always world-making. While attention to videography and other visual research methods is welcome, researchers doing “visual politics” need to ask “political” questions: who has created the image being analyzed, for what purpose(s), what imagined viewer(s), and what unintended viewer(s), as well as consider the ethical issues that these methods entail.

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Perspectives on Politics
  • ISSN: 1537-5927
  • EISSN: 1541-0986
  • URL: /core/journals/perspectives-on-politics
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