Dividing the Light
Personal reflections on anthropological becomings
Keywords:Autoethnography, art, memory, photography, representation
Images can be powerful – and the choices that go into their making, both revealing and obscuring. In 2019 I undertook to make a stained-glass window, based on a photo I had taken ten years prior at a missionary base in South Sudan. I use reflections on this art project to highlight the idea of memory as practice, with a focus on the slippery and sometimes problematic ethics of ethnographic representation as a positioned, porous, and ‘becoming’ subject. Through explaining the context in which the photo was taken, alongside the process of the window’s construction, I reflect critically on discomfort, desire, risk, and imagination, considering the work of the (white) gaze and my own internalised structures of colonial feeling. I evoke ghosts, haunting, and the phantasmal to consider affective connections between (personal and historical) pasts and present, as well as self and other – with acknowledgement that sometimes a past self can also become an other that we must learn to recognise, and dwell with, as part of grappling with the ‘splinters’ of anthropological practice and being.
Copyright (c) 2021 Susan Wardell
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