Media Anthropology

Media Anthropology at Bern

Media anthropology analyses the ways in which people use and make sense of various media technologies. It deals with the functionality and aesthetics of these technologies. As a subfield of media anthropology, audio-visual anthropology is mainly concerned with the critical analysis of visual representations. Additionally, audio-visual documents are themselves produced in visual anthropology for both research and educational purposes. So far, social anthropology remains the only discipline within the social sciences to have created its own outlets for disciplinary film production and distribution.

Through its non-text based forms of knowledge production – particularly through photographs, film and audio recordings – media anthropology broadens the ways of accessing, evoking and communicating anthropological knowledge. It enables alternative insights into the role perception, imagination and emotion play in social interactions. The expressive potential of film, photography, and sound, as well as the interactive, audio-visual and material (e.g. in museums) research and representation methods which constitute media anthropology can, furthermore, be employed for cross-cultural dialogue and critical culture analysis.

More specifically, media anthropology at the Institute for Social Anthropology in Bern deals with the potential and limitations of collaborative filmmaking. Moreover, it is concerned with questions regarding the access to invisible yet still identifiable and socially relevant subjects – ranging from topics such as religious experiences, political imprisonment, sexuality or precarious working conditions – and with how such experiences can best be understood and/or visualised.

Media anthropology can be chosen as a focus topic in the two master programs MASA and CREOLE. In addition, students can enrol in courses at the HKB.

As members of the Audio-visual Commission of the Swiss Ethnological Society (SEG) our student have access to its vast film archive.
Films can be ordered with Frau Christiane Girardin at