Visual, Media and Performative Anthropology

The focus on Visual Media and Performative Anthropology in teaching and researching at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology Münster started in the summer semester 2007. Research and teaching in this area document and interpret social and cultural practices through audio-visual and performative media. Since the iconic/pictorial turn of the humanities in the 1990s the upgrading of media in anthropological research became a phenomenon of significant concern. The 'crisis of representation' and a corresponding effort towards 'decolonizing' the discipline addressed questions of power and authorship, sensitizing to the idea that social anthropologists, when describing 'cultures,' are also always constructing them. From these approaches, there have also emerged collaborative research methods and modes of representation that led to ethnographic knowledge products becoming more reflexive, interactive, dialogical, and polyvocal. Visual Anthropology and performative (Auto)ethnography serve as a vivid example here.

Augusto Boal, Brazilian theater theorist and developer of the 'Theater of the Oppressed,' understands theater as the most fundamental human language. He refers to theater as 'the art of seeing ourselves (...) watching ourselves see ourselves.' Therefore, theater is not merely an instrument for conveying ethnological insights to an interested public; theater-making itself can be understood as an ethnographic method for analyzing and exploring human existence and behaviors. Since Erving Goffman (1959), we have known: 'We all play theater' in our everyday lives, embodying different roles on the various stages of life – but it is the conscious staging and reenactment of the everyday that enables us to adopt a understanding and analytical, hence ethnological, perspective on our actions.

At our Department, we focus on media and performance theory, more-than-text data formats as methods for research and teaching, practices of representation and reception, research ethics, ethnographic film, audiovisual artefacts, and theatre as media of presentation, communication and research.

The Department offers seminars or lectures on theory and practice of Visual, Media and Performative Anthropology which enable the students to create their own projects under professional supervision. Research and teaching outcomes are emplaced as public anthropologies in theatres, cinemas and online platforms. We closely collaborate with the Master Degree Programme "Visual Anthropology, Media and Documentary Practices" at the Professional School, University of Münster.


Thomas John, M.A.
Dr. Annika Strauss
Dr. Souleymane Diallo
Prof. Dr. Thomas Stodulka
Prof. Dr. Dorothea Schulz

Dr. Pablo Holwitt
​​​​​​​Julia Blumenberg, M.A

Former Members:

Prof. Dr. Helene Basu
Dr. Markus Schleiter