Topics in Social and Cultural Anthropology: Reading Images Culturally

Discipline: Anthropology
Instructor: Chavez
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 13:05
End: 14:20
Field Work: Day 1 | Morocco Download Syllabus

This course examines a wide range of readings to provide students with an understanding of anthropological and interdisciplinary frameworks for analyzing and reading visual images. Of central concern are representations of race, identity, gender, and the “Other.” Images, as cultural productions, are steeped in the values, ideologies, and taken-for-granted beliefs of the culture which produced them and which consumes them. They are also produced within a political economy that is class and gender inflected, and where issues of power and social order are important.

Field Work

Country: Morocco
Day: 1

Food markets are an essential part of life in every country we visit. The class will visit the public market - souk - in Casablanca, an excellent example of Moorish architecture and design, as well as local culture. Students will participate in the overview provided by the guide, during which students will have the opportunity to discuss with the guide specific aspects of Moroccan life reflected in the market places displays of food products. Students will then have up to two hours to explore independently a setting, individual or group of people to unobtrusively observe the market. Students will be able to take photographs that capture the market for comparison with other markets in Europe, Africa, and Latin America. A particular comparison will be with Spanish food markets, where students should look for Moorish influences. Students should also bring issues from the classroom into the field. For example, how is the "tourist gaze" reflected in your interactions with the souk and your photographs? How do the images you see and capture re-create an Orientalist discourse that reinforces East-West constructions? How is the other represented? What is particularly Moroccan and/or Islamic in the market? What types of food are religiously defined and why? What types of food are defined as polluting and must be avoided and why? Students will also find many items for sale for tourists. What messages do those tourist cards, items, etc. represent, and how do they compare with such items in markets in other countries? Of particular interest will be any images or representations of race or gender that can be drawn from the market experience. Class instructions will be provided to students prior to this Field Lab. We will all reunite at noon at a designated restaurant in the souk area to share a Moroccan meal together and debrief our observation experiences.