Crisis through Comics: A roundtable discussion on graphic anthropology

RAI Film Festival 2021 (25-28 March 2021) https://nomadit.co.uk/conference/raiff2021/p/9507

Short Abstract: ‘Crisis Through Comics’ seeks to explore the potential of graphic anthropology as both an analytical medium to discuss and generate political critique and create new avenues for public engagement and dissemination.

Long abstract: Concerning the 2008 European economic crisis, Kalantzis (2014) challenges anthropologists to go beyond the compulsive aestheticisation of poverty and destitution which has too often functioned as metonyms of the crisis. Such a provocation remains especially salient in today’s unfolding of multiple uncertainties, of which the COVID-19 pandemic is just one crisis amongst many.
The roundtable we are proposing aims to explore the entanglements of multiple crises in an increasingly interconnected world and the possibilities that graphic anthropology offers to unravel critical complexities and visualise ruptures and continuities. In contrast to film which uses the cut to compress or speed up time, the principal technology for the passage of time in comics is the transition between panels (McCloud 1993). Through the combination of image and text, comics have the capacity to navigate ruptures of time and space whilst transcending the temporal linearity of text-based ethnography. As event-based art applied to events of social relevance (Embury & Minichiello 2018), comics enable the ethnographer to capture the dynamics of unfolding events through the use of lines, shapes and colours with the potential to express the artist’s inner states and represent conflicting perspectives and temporalities.
This roundtable on ‘Crisis Through Comics’ seeks to engage with scholars to explore the potential of graphic anthropology as both an analytical medium to discuss and generate political critique and create new avenues for public engagement and dissemination. We thus invite contributions from scholars engaging with comics and illustrations as perceptive tools for ethnographic fieldwork and a novel mode of representation.