Scholars 2006

2006 Present - Journalists of Print Media

Gursel Zeynep

University of California, Berkeley, Department of Anthropology 

"The Image Industry: The Work of International News Images in the Age of Digital Reproduction"

August 2006

Against the backdrop of Gulf War II, commonly referred to as "the most photographed war in history," I have spent the last two years engaged in ethnographic investigation of key nodal points of production, distribution, and circulation of the international photojournalism industry by focusing on its centers of power in New York and Paris.

In fall 2006 I will have completed the first extensive ethnography of the international news photography industry. My work builds on an increasingly rich anthropology of globalization and mass media that emphasizes the central role of the imagination in the production of culture and identity. Rather than analyze a single object of mass media, my dissertation documents the network through which international news photographs "move" to understand the structural limitations and possibilities that shape these images and their use in contemporary "ways of worldmaking."

This perspective makes explicit news photographs' role as images with which we construct our image of the world at large. News photography as a case study contributes to anthropological writing on the unevenness of the benefits of globalization because the structures that enable constructing images of various populations are almost all owned by "the West" and news publications in "the rest" of the world have few, if any, alternative sources of images. I aim to contribute to understanding how certain essentializing images of specific populations get reproduced and reinforced.