Monday, July 5, 2010

Uncharacteristic Self-Portrait in Berlin...

I was in Berlin over the weekend to explore the former communist territory in East Berlin (be sure to look forward to my tales of dining on Karl Marx Allee and getting ripped off by a vendor at Check-Point Charlie) and to celebrate the German 4-0 victory over Argentina in the World Cup. An estimated 30 to 40,000 people showed up on the the Strasse des 17. Juni in Tiergarten Park to watch the match and celebrate. I usually don't post pictures of The Anthropologist on this blog, but here I couldn't resist. As opposed to Japan, I blend in well with the German natives, don't you think? Stay tuned in the coming days for more Berlin pics (I took 1018 photos in 3 days).


R. A. Stern said...

Clever use of your environment. Also an interesting, if unintended, tribute to Where's Waldo, though I see you left your red and white striped sweater at home this time.

What I find more provoking about this post would be some more depth on your views concerning the visibility (or lack thereof) of anthropologists in the field, especially in visual research.

visual gonthros said...

Thanks, Richard. I always appreciate your comments and deep thinking. I got home very late last evening but wanted to get something up on the blog before I collapsed from exhaustion.

As I mentioned in the post, I don't stick out so much here as I do in Japan. There are both advantages and disadvantages to this. I don't seem to cause such an uproar (あっ!外国人いる!) in Germany but then at the same time people probably don't recognize me as a researcher. Of course I want to avoid the former so as not to change the research scene so much but would like to have the latter for ethical reasons. I seem to be lumped together with tourists, camera buffs and at best journalists. The soccer fans go wild in front of the TV camera (and of course the TV crews seek and take advantage of this). Some people see my camera and strike a pose. But the funny thing is, I find it easier to ask and get pictures of people in public in Japan (so much for Japanese people being so shy...). Hopefully this has something to do with my cultural familiarity and perhaps even language ability. But Japan "feels" different to me in this respect. Only time can tell. As I always preach, long term ethnography makes all the difference. I will try to bring up this issue in the visual anthro seminar this weekend and see what my grad students think.