Sonya de Laat


In this paper, I consider the many ethical dilemmas facing visual anthropologists and those using visual representation material in their research. The issues are many and are complex. With this paper I scratch only the surface of how to confront and deal with some of them. The main purpose of this paper is not to provide solutions, as ethical questions are always unique to the situations in which they develop. What the paper does do is look at ways in which visual anthropologists, and documentary filmmakers have approached and dealt with a variety of these concerns. An extensive review of historical and contemporary works of visual representations are explored and analysed as examples of the types of ethical issues encountered. In our increasingly post-colonial era, issues of voice, co-authorship and copyright highlight just a few of the current topics covered herein. Techniques such as balanced multivocality, reflexivity, collaboration, and reciprocity are discussed with the aid of short case studies to offer examples of the types of ethical issues those using visual material might be faced with and how to possibly deal with (though not necessarily solve) them.