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Permanent link (DOI): https://doi.org/10.7939/R3ZM5N

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Agitating images Open Access

Descriptions

Other title
Subject/Keyword
Photography
Siberia
Critical Theory
Cultural History
Type of item
Thesis
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Campbell, Craig
Supervisor and department
Siemens, Elena (Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Sayer, Derek (Sociology/History)
Examining committee member and department
Fletcher, Christopher (Anthropology)
Zivkovic, Marko (Anthropology)
Shields, Rob (Sociology/Art and Design)
Gérin, Annie (Art History)
Department
Department of Sociology
Specialization

Date accepted
2009-08-26T21:57:34Z
Graduation date
2009-11
Degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Doctoral
Abstract
The title of this thesis gives away little beyond an engagement with the visual and the implication of some sort of trouble: Agitating images. In many ways it is a project defined by trouble: trouble that is analyzed and historicized but also trouble that is expected and invited. The agitation refers initially to the project of communist agitators working in the 1920s and 30s among indigenous Siberian peoples. Soviet society was at war with illiteracy, at war with backwardness and, in central Siberia it was at war with shamans and wealthy reindeer herders. In relation to images, agitation is something altogether different and my metaphorical leap from a communist agitator to image as agitator can only exist through analytical fiat. What are agitating images? I argue that all photographs are actually agitating, even the most mundane and transparent images are agitating. They pose as media amenable to interpretation and the ascription of meaning; in fact they undermine meaning and they undermine interpretation. I demonstrate this in three distinct parts of the thesis. Part I offers a comprehensive articulation of my project. It is illustrated in a more or less conventional manner with archival photographs from Siberia. Part II is a demonstration of history and photography in conflict. I show how the Soviets—faced with an enormous inland territory and what was perceived as a culturally anterior population—developed the Culturebase, a unique technology to facilitate the shaping and manipulation of indigenous cultures. Part III of the thesis presents an altogether different approach. In this section I eschew the conventions and limitations of the printed page and offer a digital alternative. The format of Part III is agitating as well. As a website it is a performative act of perpetual openness. Agitating images is ultimately not about the end of interpretation, ethnography, or history. Rather, it is a generative work that reflexively apprehends its own place in the production of knowledge.
Language
English
DOI
doi:10.7939/R3ZM5N
Rights
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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