The ethnography of visual culture
Ethnography according to research is the study of human behavior, social interaction and perception occurring amongst individuals in various settings. This paper focuses on the visual cultures of ethnography. The study here also entails taking a look at wildlife tourism culture across the globe. The study also decides to utilize visual ethnography in data collection. This method of data collection according to the researcher states some vital moments in life that can be described best by films and pictographs.
This paper focuses on the effects of visual ethnography on wildlife tourism. This can be achieved by use of tourist photographs by interacting with and observing animals in their environments. The paper also evaluates how films and still pictures make interwoven connections of personal practices, experiences as well as social relationships meaningful in the tourism world.
The main research methodology employed for this study is ethnography. This research has decided to use this option based on the fact that it is the most ideal way to capture real activities of relationships between the behaviors of humans as well as their relationships with their animals in their environment. Pink (2007) states that the interaction of humans and social science can be seen best via visualization. Written materials cannot clearly bring out the nature of interaction between animals and man in their habitat.
To achieve the best results, the activities taking place in game reserves as well as animal parks with holidaymakers going about their normal activities will be witnessed and recorded. Human beings through ethnography can utilize their sensory abilities to their best level in cultural data analysis. This strategy was chosen based on the fact that it records real time activities just as they happen.
The data collected will also give viewers an actual actions image taking place in a research site. These are also pictures that tell a story and the story can be exclusively documented in written form. By use of visual ethnography as a data collection method, there are many benefits that can be realized by using the method even by the uneducated group (Pink, 2007). This can be attributed to the fact that film and picture evaluation does not need any grand education but the involved individual only needs to utilize his or her senses.
The results are them recorded in a film and others in photographic format. Social relations throughout the fieldwork between animals and tourists will additionally be documented in picture form as well as film. The researcher therefore will therefore record a long day view and take action pictures as they take place in reserves and animal parks.
Video recording also takes place over night and at daytime while the pictures are often shot during the day. Therefore, the most ideal way of recording the findings of the research is visual ethnography because it offers clear images that individuals can relate to. It is additionally easy to interpret and make use of the photographs and the films. Ethnographic research also deals with the study of the activities of humans in their environs.
The researcher clearly understanding that many individuals do not like disturbance in their surroundings. Therefore, to have a sound field study, he had to adhere to the code of ethics of anthropology. The rules are clearly stated in the American Anthropology Association code of ethics (AAA).
The laws also state the way in which a specialized ethnographer should carry out the research without any form of interference or injury to other people he or she comes into contact with. The study therefore must be clearly carried out and in a highly professional manner. The researcher must also get permission for the research by writing to or contacting the association in person.
The researcher should state clearly in the meeting that he or she will abide by the AAA code of ethics thus affirming not to injure or disturb. This also involves not causing any harm to animals or to the people. The researcher as a result agrees to maintain the dignity of humans and animals by all costs in the course of the research.
Additionally, the researcher should be very honest in the research and needs to make informed decisions and be guided by sound principles in the study. The AAA also expects the researcher to be honest in the study and offer honest findings in the area of interest besides accepting to makes the findings public.
The researcher should accept all conditions pertaining to the research for instance interpreting the results in various ways and must also protect the people’s heritage within the community. In the event where high levels of confidentiality are expected, the researcher must offer the same to the relevant authorities and in advance. An ethnographic researcher also has a duty to protect and maintain research results. Therefore, he or she must fully accept that the findings will be protected and preserved for future references.
Research findings and data analysis
Visual ethnography’s success in research study depends on your availability at the research area at the right time. It also depends on camera settings whether it is at the right position during the day and at night so that all activities are captured well. The research findings of many holiday makers had various intentions when visiting the parks.
Some tourists came to see scary animals and others were simply on the trail of adventure. Others were seen taking photos with the animals or taking their pictures. It was however particularly clear from the recorded film that man loves animals. Some humans would go an extra mile to feed the animals despite the fact that such actions are considered illegal.
Many people spent a lot of time in the parks just feeding animals and the video recorded a large number of individuals coming in and out of the reserves compared to weekdays.
Different wildlife at the research area
The film revealed how humans can interact with animals and the results were indeed overwhelming evidence that animals are treated with a lot of tenderness and care by humans yet the contrary if often true. The film additionally revealed how humans can be close to animals including the kangaroos, chimps and monkeys.
There are tourists who were filmed collecting a wide range of tree species and others simply decided to enjoy the incredible view of different parts of the animal park. Coming into the park, the holiday makers were from different backgrounds. In this study, visual ethnography brought out clearly the fact that tourism is not just an activity for the chosen few.
Tourists make regular visits to the park and made it their daily routines. The picture and films taken depicts how humans relate with these animals that do not even understand their language. There are those who fed them and took photos with them. There are also tourists who went further to play with the animals despite the fact that such relations only took place between tamed animals and holiday makers.
Research findings also proved this even though people understand animals to be very cruel while other animals are known to be very friendly to humans. Zebras, kangaroos, some birds and giraffes for example were very friendly and did not run away when approached by the people on foot. On the other animals, there were animals that were very dangerous and even warning sign posts were put around them to warn tourists not to go closer to them. The sign posts were placed in strategic places informing people to interact with animals including cheetah, buffalo and lions at own risk.
Despite the incredible times that people enjoyed while interacting animals, the contrary was also true. There are cameras that caught a woman who was almost being attacked by a cheetah as she moved closer to the cage. There was also a recording of a buffalo in another park attacking a man and pinned him on the ground. The buffalo constantly stepped on the man causing a lot of harm.
Reliable research findings were generated as a result of intense assistance from the local individuals. For instance, navigating the part was not simply a walk in the part but it took a lot of assistance of the local individuals and the journey become at least more bearable.
The researcher being new to the park did not have any form of knowledge on spots that were frequented by people the most. Some experienced locaks and game wardens offered a helping hand to the researcher without asking for any more remuneration. The wardens also went ahead and informed the researcher that animals came out to graze at different times of the day in the park. However, there were still early risers and others came alittle bit late.
The researcher as a result was in a position to be on site to take pictures of different animals. This kind of revealation helped the researcher to ensure the camera is well positioned in the places and direction that tourists frequented as they come to interact with and see the animals. This thereofer enabled the researcher to document and record how the animals interact with humans in their environs.
Another clearly observed results was on the nature of tourism. It was found from the film that tourism is not just a regular event but an activity that different people engage in for various reasons. For instance, some individuals become holiday makers to be able to collect academic information just like the researcher. Others become tourists just for aesthethic reasons and others for the purpose and love of adventure.
Tourism culture is also one that is embraced by individuals from all walks of life. The film recorded people of different ages and from different races come into the animal park. Those who had sufficient funds went to the most expensive parts of the park while those with little money only visited the areas they could afford. Children appeared more excited at the sight of crawling animals. Old women and men on the other seemed scared to death.
Some holidaymakers were however too brave and others could not even make two strides closer to the cages. This is a clear fact that tourism is indeed a social event that brings together individuals from all walks of life. Some came to have fun and while others for educational reasons.
For research findings to be realiable, the researcher needs to utilize high quality materials and tools in collection of data. This is based on the fact that success of the study largely depends on results reliability. The researcher in the study used video cameras of the highest quality to take pictures and for recording purposes. The researcher also decided to be time concisous at all times of the study. As a result, he was able to collect the right information and at the right time.
The most essential procedures prior to the study involved contacting AAA for a go ahead and alerting game rangers within the research site of the study. This is based on the fact that in ethnography, AAA must always authorize the research. Alerting rangers within the research site was also essential because in all settings, there are protocols to be followed before utilizing their facilities. Some game reserves and parks do not allow strangers to take pictures of animals and people.
Everything must have the good and the bad side. In ethnography studies, success doesn’t come easy and the study usually calls for a lot of resistance. The real field of study often encounters a lot of challenges from planners, people and sponsors and this research study was not an exception. The first challenge was obtaining permission AAA to carry out the study.
The move was a challenge based on the fact that it took a lot of time to receive a feedback for the mail seeking a meeting with them. Picking the ideal area of the study was the second challenge. This is because the research needed a unique and new location that the researcher was not used to.
There are also sponsors who felt that the study was too expensive since it involved travelling to another country. The tools were also exorbitant since the study needed a particular weather resistant camera. Preparing and reaching out to park managers to alert them of the study was also a challenge since their feedback was delayed. This further delayed the research date as earlier indicated.
At the research site, the weather was also not rewarding. For instance, it rained heavily on the second night of the study. This was coupled with powerful and strong winds that the night vision camera fell off from the tree it had been positioned at. This means for the second night of the study, no data was collected. Therefore, it was a major setback because daytime and night data was needed for reliability purposes. The researcher as a result had to stay an extra night in the animal park to correct the misfortune and make a final recording.
Visual ethnography is no doubt a very reliable strategy of recording cultural interaction in life of humans. The method offers viewers an opportunity to utilize all their senses in data analysis. It is additionally the most ideal way to use more specifically in cases where the researcher aims at capturing real time events that writing cannot explain. It is also a method that can be used by the unlearned to evaluate data since they do not need higher education levels but only needs the use of senses.
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Pink, S, (2007). Doing Ethnographic Research. New York, NY: SAGE