June 2005 Archives

I was recently asked by a prospective grad student about which discipline would be the best fit for his interests in visual history in east asia. Here's part of my response:

Thank you for your e-mail. That's an interesting conundrum you have there. In a sense, disciplines are so amorphous these days that you could conceivable do an ethnographic project in a history department or history/film criticism in an anthro department for your PhD. However, the reality is that the job market is a bit more conservative and you should give some thought as to what would be a good fit. The most important question would be which division do you see yourself most in: humanities, social sciences, or fine arts? Who would you prefer to have as colleagues -- and who would you have evaluate your work?

Or, the other question might be, which journals do you see publishing your work? I'd spend some time browsing the main journals of the disciplines you're interested in. Note that there are many subdisciplines and so you should look at those as well. But in order to get tenure at upper tier colleges, you should have at least one article in one of the main journals of your discipline, so you should look through back numbers and see if anyone is doing anything similar to what you're interested in -- and is able to get published.

Comments, feedback, other questions?

Frequent Photoethnography blog contributor, MuseumFreak, has a post on her site with links and continuing discussion about autism, anthropology, and (mis)representation:
A common aphorism thrown around the autistic community is: "NTs (neurotypicals, the opposite of autistics) assume everybody thinks like them until proven otherwise; autistics assume nobody thinks like them until proven otherwise." Because, a lot of the time, other people's motivations don't make SENSE. The experience of being an autistic is a lot like the experience of being an ethnographer--we're in a culture we don't understand, and forced to rely on our ability to observe to learn, get by, and adapt to the world.

I'm just about to leave St. Paul for New Haven. My office is all packed up -- about fifty boxes of books waiting for UPS. The movers arrive on Friday to take everything away. My little cottage is going on the market next Tuesday. It's the end of a nice period for me in the mid-West.

Since I'm driving to Connecticut from Minnesota and because I'll be doing a lot of traveling this summer as I wrap up my fieldwork, I thought I would get a 3G cell-phone that would allow me to connect to the internet while on the road. After a lot of research, I decided on the Motorola v330 from T-Mobile, which has a $19.99 unlimited internet plan (unlike the other vendors who are metered or much more expensive). The v330 has built-in bluetooth and can operate as a wireless modem for the 3G/GPRS service.

The phone arrived today. The hard bit was setting it up for dial-up-networking (DUN) on MacOS X. It took some figuring out. Here are my notes:

Even as a permanent resident, when entering the country it's standard procedure for Immigration to ask you why you left. Here are the last two conversations I had:

Customs and Immigration, Detroit Metro-Worth, June 2005
Immigration: What were you doing in Japan?
Moi: I'm an anthropologist, I was doing fieldwork with people with disabilities.
Immigration: Disabilities? Like me?
Moi: [Peering over counter at his legs. He isn't in a wheelchair, no braces on his legs. He is kind of overweight... I give him a quizzical look]
Immigration: [Turning very red, he mumbles] umm... I have a bad knee.. [he mumbles some more, then STAMPS my passport and hands it back] Welcome back.

The kicker, though, was the last time I came through:

A thread on the large format photography list is titled, Kodak Discontinuing B&W Paper?:

"Well, I can't quite believe this one, but it's from the venerable and usually well informed Richard Knoppow on the F32 list:

'My contact at Kodak has informed me that Kodak has discontinued all B&W paper. The official announcement will be made later today. Kodak will continue to manufacture B&W film and chemicals.' I'd like to hope it's yet another misunderstandign of one of Kodak's announcements about some kind of downsizing"

Well, we made it safely to St. Paul via Detroit. I'm not sure if it was just the luck of the draw, but the immigration lines were very short. We were through in less than 15 minutes. I've been stuck in line for more than an hour before. Kudos to the BCIS if it's due to better management.

We're in the midst of packing up and moving. We're putting our house in St. Paul on the market. It's a small 3 bedroom cottage in Highland Park, if anyone is interested in buying it. We're off to New Haven in just over a week, driving there by the scenic route. And then we're house-hunting, so if anyone has a small 3 bedroom cottage in New Haven that they want to sell, let us know. :-)

I'm boarding my flight tomorrow back to St. Paul, MN from Osaka Japan. It's been a productive year exploring disability politics in Japan. I look forward to a rather hectic summer of moving to New Haven and trying to cram in some research on disability in Washington, DC. Updates to this blog will be sporadic over the next several weeks.

Link: EtnoFoto

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Hajnal Lszl Endre wrote to me about his his new site EtnoFoto , which consists of wonderful documentary photography from Hungary:

This website is run by the 'Foundation for the Visual Research of Culture'. The aim of the photo gallery found on this website is to accomodate publicity for artists and photographs who take on the task of introducing the colourful nature and multicultural phenomena of social groups living side-by-side in the Carpathian Region/Basin. Furthermore, these artists and photographs wish to understand the inter-cultural contacts between these groups and try to promote their mutual approach. All this work is undertaken by the widest possible understanding of the notion 'social groups' including ethnic groups, urban subcultural groups, religious communities, representatives of certain professions, and the visual representations of forms of celebrations, presentations of different customs, community events and values.

(Via EtnoFoto .)

Continuing with yesterday's neo-Luddite theme, the New York Times has an article on documentary photographer, David Burnett, titled Which Camera Does This Pro Use? It Depends on the Shot - New York Times:

Mr. Burnett was explaining why in this age of ever more plentiful megapixels, at this moment when the concept of "film" seems as old-fashioned as a rotary telephone, he has spent most of the last two years lugging around a 55-year-old 4-by-5-inch Graflex Speed Graphic camera, complete with tripod.

The Washington Post reports that the U.S. Leads In Mental Illness, Lags in Treatment:

"One-quarter of all Americans met the criteria for having a mental illness within the past year, and fully a quarter of those had a 'serious' disorder that significantly disrupted their ability to function day to day, according to the largest and most detailed survey of the nation's mental health, published yesterday.

Although parallel studies in 27 other countries are not yet complete, the new numbers suggest that the United States is poised to rank No. 1 globally for mental illness, researchers said."


Less than half of those in need get treated. Those who seek treatment typically do so after a decade or more of delays, during which time they are likely to develop additional problems. And the treatment they receive is usually inadequate.

Younger sufferers are especially overlooked, the survey found, even though mental illness is very much a disease of youth. Half of those who will ever be diagnosed with a mental disorder show signs of the disease by age 14, and three-quarters by age 24. But few get help.

(Via TalkLeft.com.)

Rob Galbraith's site has an article titled "Alex Majoli points and shoots" about a Magnum photographer who is using a digital point-and-shoot for his award winning documentary photography:

In 2003, Magnum photographer Alex Majoli shot some big stories for Newsweek magazine. He spent a month in China shooting documentary images of daily life. He was in Congo for two weeks and Iraq for almost two months. In those two places he was shooting war.
It would seem reasonable to guess that all that award-winning work in remote and frequently dangerous places must have been shot with big, fast, bulletproof pro SLR cameras. But in fact, Majoli shot every frame with Olympus C-5050 digital point-and-shoots -- the same camera your snap happy Uncle Maury takes to Disney World."

(Via The Leica Users Group.)

Are you left eyed or right eyed? The majority of people are right-eyed but a good minority are left-eyed. This is significant since many cameras are designed for right-eyed (and right-handed) people. For example, older manual Nikon SLR cameras required the wind lever to pulled slightly backward for the meter to turn on. If you were left-eyed, the extended wind lever would poke you in the (right) eye and turn off. Most other manual-wind cameras are difficult for left-eyed people to cock the shutter without taking their eye away from the finder although some rangefinders have rapidwinders (Leica M) or trigger-winders (Canonet 19; Zorki 10) that are useful for left-eyed people.

People inevitably ask me if my job at Yale is "tenure-track." The academic world with the exception of Yale, Harvard, and John Hopkins operate on the tenure-track (TT) and non-tenure-track system (non-TT). This blog entry briefly discusses TT/non-TT systems at other institutions, and the bizarre senior/junior faculty system used by Yale, Harvard, and John Hopkins.

A student named Aaron Milhalik has produced a nice documentary photoessay of Starbucks as his final project for BD Colen's Documentary Photography and Photojournalism course at MIT. Take the opportunity to explore the other final projects on Colen's site as well. If you know of student work at other colleges, please submit it for posting.

We are reaching the point where the evolution of sensor design is plateauing and we are seeing only minimal differences between different platforms. And I think this is a good thing because it forces us to return to the original question of how we choose cameras. This article was stimulated by people finding that Leica R9/DMR was taking photographs that were only slightly better in quality than the much less expensive Canon EOS 20D. The Nikon D2X photographs also rival those taken with the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II even though the sensor size is much different.

Many colleges and universities are now instituting third-year reviews for junior faculty. As a new faculty member you may be told that it is diagnostic or prognostic, that it's preparation for the tenure review, or that there is nothing to worry about because it is just a formality. The first two characterizations are true, the last one isn't -- third year reviews are increasingly being used to weed out junior faculty and you need to approach your third year review with caution.

I've now uploaded my photoessay coverage of the 2005.05.12 disability protest in Japan to my web gallery page. Organized by DPI-Japan and several other major disability organizations, this is the fourth and last national protest against the proposed Grand Design of social welfare services for people with severe disabilities.

For background information, see my earlier coverage of the 2004.10.20 demonstration, followed by the 2004.12.13 demonstration, and the 2005.02.15 demonstration.

The photographs in this series were taken with a Leica M7 film rangefinder and 35mm f/2 Zeiss Biogon lens. The film used was Fuji Neopan Acros 100 for the black and white work and Fuji Provia 100 for the color work. They were scanned on a Nikon LS 4000 Coolscan film scanner and processed in Adobe Photoshop CS.

All of the photographs on this site are copyright 2005 Karen Nakamura and cannot be used without prior written permission.

Continue reading the "2005.05.12 disability photoessay."

The Abe Fellowship Program

The Social Science Research Council (SSRC), the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership (CGP), and the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) announce the annual Abe Fellowship Program competition. The Program is one of the central components of CGP and is named after the late Mr. Shintaro Abe, former Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, who proposed in 1990 to establish the Center.

The BBC News is reporting on 'Fears over CIA 'university spies':

CIA scheme to sponsor trainee spies secretly through US university courses has caused anger among UK academics. The Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program pays anthropology students, whose names are not disclosed, up to $50,000 (27,500) a year.

They are expected to use the techniques of "fieldwork" to gather political and cultural details on other countries. CIA scheme to sponsor trainee spies secretly through US university courses has caused anger among UK academics. The Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program pays anthropology students, whose names are not disclosed, up to $50,000 (27,500) a year.

I'm still recovering from the two week field trip to Tokyo, Akita, and Hokkaido that I took a few weeks ago. I've finally finished processing and scanning the film, but haven't gotten around to organizing the some 50 gigabytes of data. I'll be posting a full gallery from the trip to this blog, here's a sneak preview:

This is from the disability protest organized by several groups on May 12, 2005. This particular photograph is of Hiroko Nakamura (no relation), the head of the Center for Independent Living in Matsue (Shimane Prefecture), reading a statement to the representatives of the Lower House of Parliament. Taken with a Leica M7 and 35mm f/2 Zeiss Biogon on Fuji Acros 100 film

PDNOnline.com has an early preview of the new The Mamiya ZD titled "Hands-on with the most interesting digital ever." . The ZD is a 22-megapixel digital medium-format camera with a huge 36mm x 48mm sensor. If the price comes under $10,000 as rumored, the ZD will be a class-leading product:

The Mamiya ZD, even in its current iteration is a powerful camera. Engineers in Japan will need to ensure that the image processing time is short enough to make the camera a viable option in the studio or in the field, but aside from the buffering times and the image-quality quirks of the early version firmware, the Mamiya ZD is already good to go.

When it ships, the ZD will be lighter than the Canon 1Ds Mark II, with nearly twice the resolution of the Nikon D2X, and vastly more lenses than the Olympus E system. If the company can bring the price in line (a few thousand more than a Canon 1Ds Mark II, but less than a AFD plus back) will make this a very powerful addition to Mamiya%u2019s lineup.

DigitalCameraReview.com notes that Pentax Announces the Pentax *istDL Digital Camera:

PENTAX Corporation is pleased to announce the marketing of the PENTAX *istDL digital SLR camera. With a compact, lightweight body, simplified operations and outstanding cost performance, the *istDL is designed to extend the advantages of high-quality digital SLR photography, including lens interchangeability, to photographers of all levels, even those who are unfamiliar with digital and SLR photography.

The Connection.org has a fascinating online radio interview with photographer Mary Ellen Mark. From the program notes:

The photographer Mary Ellen Mark insists that "reality is always extraordinary." For more than forty years, she has been focusing her lens on the gritty, and often unattractive reality of people who inhabit the seamier side of society. Her first in-depth project took her to the Oregon State Mental Hospital where she spent more than a month living with female inmates.

The 10-megapixel Leica DMR digital back for the Leica R8 and R9 SLRs is due to be released on June 15th (2005), well behind schedule. Sample cameras are already in the hands of photographers who are starting to upload photographs taken with the camera/back combination. Here are some examples:

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This page is an archive of entries from June 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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