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FASS623 Franz Schultheis Workshops: Pierre Bourdieu's visual sociology of Algeria: An analysis of a photographic archive
Professor Franz Schultheis is a visiting sociologist who was a close collaborator of Pierre Bourdieu and is a leading Bourdieu specialist.
For nearly four decades, Pierre Bourdieu's photographic archive established during his ethnographic fieldwork in Algeria stayed nearly unknown. Only 700 items have been conserved of several thousands of visual testimonies taken during Bourdieu's self-initiation to sociology and ethnology in the "sociological laboratorium" of the Algerian society during the anti-colonial war. The archive constitutes an important entry into Bourdieu's vision of social world. These photographs will form the empirical material of our seminar.
Representing mainly ethnographic primary material, these photos must be viewed and interpreted in relation to the specific scientific interest underlying the choice of subject, the angle of view, the inclusion of context and the resulting construction of the object to be captured, especially if one does not want to indulge in an ahistoric aesthetic purism and to ignore the social meaning and political significance of these pictures. They are "framed" by their very conditions of production, operating in a specific socio-historical context which they aim to document or, in Bourdieu's term, to "objectify" in a particular way.
Even at this early stage all of Bourdieu's fundamental themes of sociology have already been present: he addresses the subliminal rules of exchange, the social embedding of economy, the relation of temporal structures to rationality, the symbolic orders of society as well as the hierarchies between the sexes, generations and social classes. His photographs serve as a catalyst for carving out the different thematic complexes found in Bourdieu's theoretical works. His ground-breaking fieldwork, now supplemented for the first time by his photographs, provides insight into the nascent state of his sociology. Apart from this dimension of shedding light on the evolution of Bourdieu's work, his photographical archive constitutes an impressive socio-historical document. They testify to a society full of uneven developments, where people still have not overcome their homeless and uprooted situation, their alienation from both tradition and modernity. Maybe it is Algeria's tragedy that even after four decades these pictures are still as topical, relevant and realistic.
After an introduction to Bourdieu's Algerian period and his way from philosophy to ethnology and sociology, we will undertake our way through around 600 of these photographs which have until today never been treated for scientific means and we will try to establish a sort of structured archive and curated exhibition.
A detailed description of each session will be sent to participants before the course starts.
Bourdieu, P: Picturing Algeria, New York, Columbia University Press, 2012
Schultheis, F: Bourdieus Wege in die Soziologie, Konstanz, Universitätsverlag, 2007
Schultheis, F: 'Sociological Investigations: from Photographic Evidence to Thick Description in the Work of Pierre Bourdieu', in: Transversal web journal 03/08: bourdieu in algeria, Wien, 2008 - http://translate.eipcp.net/transversal/0308/schultheis/en
Schultheis, F: 'With Weber Against Weber: In Conversation With Pierre Bourdieu', in: Susen, S and Turner, BS: The Legacy of Pierre Bourdieu: Critical Essays, London, Anthem Press, 2011, pp 111-124
Timing and Location
Minimum quota: 6
Maximum quota: 15
FREE to non-FASS students
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