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Comparative Anthropology and History of Images and the Gaze

> Participants


François Lissarrague (EHESS)

Emmanuelle Valette (Paris 7)

Stéphanie Wyler (Paris 7)

ANHIMA members

Cléo M. Carastro (EHESS), Sylvia Estienne (ENS), Marion Faure (Paris 1), Florence Gherchanoc (Paris 7/IUF), François Lissarrague (EHESS), Emmanuelle Valette (Paris 7), Stéphanie Wyler (Paris 7)


Vincent Azoulay (Marne la Vallée), Catherine Baroin (Rouen), Jean-Pierre Darmon (CNRS), Véronique Dasen (Fribourg), Nikolaus Dietrich (Humbolt Universität Berlin), Valérie Huet (Brest), Pierre Letessier (Paris 7), Eric Morvillez (Avignon), Alain Schnapp (Paris 1)

Others members

Françoise Frontisi (Collège de France), Marie-Christine Villanueva-Puig (CNRS)

External members

Ludivine Chazalon (Nantes), Jean-François Cottier (Paris 7), Rachel Darmon, Jean-Pierre De Giorgio (Clermont-Ferrand), Charles Delattre (Paris 10), Jeffrey Hurwit (Oregon), Patrice Loraux (Paris 1), Angela Pontrandolfo (Salerne), Michael Ribreau (Paris 3), Victoria Sabetai (Athènes), Noémie Villacèque (Toulouse Le Mirail)

Postdocs and doctoral students

Noémie Hosoi (Paris 1), Nikolina Kei (EHESS), Vassiliki Zachari (EHESS)

> About

The image could not constitute an autonomous field of research without the anthropological lines of inquiry that once inspired the research conducted at the Centre Louis Gernet, whether concerning religion, myth, social history, or gender. Building on this past work, our approach is an anthropology of the image, focused on the study of the gaze and on the pragmatics of seeing. Bringing together scholars of Rome and Greece, and specialists in images and texts, this program is committed to openness to other cultural areas in addition to the Greek and Roman worlds. Two complementary topics will be pursued relating to the concepts of “nature and countryside” (topic 1) and “the spectacular” (topic 2).
➢ Topic 1 : Nature and Landscape (F. Lissarrague and S. Wyler)

The project “Nature” explores the circumstances of the representation of natural and “landscape” elements in Greek, Hellenistic, and Roman art ; the depiction of urban spaces and the natural world ; and in the conventions of these landscape forms and their transformation, combining lexical and textual analysis with systematic work on the conventions of the image.
We propose to reassess the meanings of the term physis and the use of natural elements in ancient art. We hope in particular to understand why nature is a relatively secondary topic in ancient art. After collecting “landscape” images, from the Archaic to the Hellenistic period, we will go beyond this simple inventory of representations towards the analysis of the deployment of space in images and the relationship between figures and the natural environment. This research is connected to a planned exhibition based on these themes in collaboration with the museums of Berlin and Naples (a section from Paris is also possible).
➢ Topic 2 : The Spectacular : Anthropology of the Visual in the Ancient World (E. Valette and S. Wyler)

Over the last few years, several studies and colloquia have explored the subject of vision in the ancient world ; advances in visual anthropology moreover highlight the importance of the gaze in the analysis of social, political, and religious rituals and the role of spectators in these “performances.” What is at stake here is the reflection on the concept of the spectacular in the ancient world. Several research areas will be addressed :
1) The specific role assigned to the audience at Roman games (ludi) and spectacles. This anthropology of spectacles in particular makes it possible to collaborate with researchers of the University of Toulouse II le Mirail who specialize in ancient theater and to integrate areas of research in contemporary theater studies.
2). Interaction between those who see and are seen in religious, social, and political rituals (oratorical practices, sacrifices, triumphs). The analysis of these interactions helps define the pragmatics of the gaze and of seeing and integrates very recent discussions of the power of images, rhetoric, the exercise of political power (and “political spectacle”).
3) The strategies that attract one’s gaze (ostentatious practices) and “create a spectacle” around the body and its perception.
4) The specific way one views different kinds of media and objects – these pragmatic questions concerning the gaze intersect topics addressed by M. Carastro on “the life of objects.”

> Publications

E. Valette et G. Jay-Robert, « Des théories de la vision à l’anthropologie du regard : nouvelles perspectives de recherche », in Vision et regard dans la comédie antique, Cahiers des Études anciennes, 57, avril 2014.

> Ongoing and future projects

→ Journée d’étude "Le spectacle de la nature : regards grecs et romains", samedi 18 octobre 2014, INHA (salle Vasari).

How did the ancients view nature ? What did they see there ? What of it do they represent and why ? And to what extent and in what context could nature and landscape “create a spectacle” in Greece and Rome ? While natural elements (trees, rocks, rivers...) are well represented in both Greek and Roman art, and while poetic and philosophical texts furnish numerous descriptions of and discourses on nature (physis, natura), the ancients’ view of nature as a coherent whole that makes sense, marks an identity, or evokes an emotion is not self-evident. The subject of landscape in Antiquity has been the subject of several recent studies (e.g., Rouveret 2004, Couëlle 2005, Luccioni 2006, Baridon 2006, Spencer 2010), after being neglected by historians who had long believed that consciousness of one’s relationship to the environment has first emerged during the Renaissance, and that Antiquity and the Middle Ages believed only in “proto-landscapes” or “pristine landscapes.” The ancients’ representations of nature, on the contrary, attest to a very real, but also very different form of attention from the visions that emerged during the Romantic era. These gaps explain why they were misunderstood or even denied for so long. They likewise are what today open the door to particularly rich anthropological perspectives. Studies of “sacred landscapes” (Scheid-Polignac 2010), conceived as an “ensemble of signs, bearings [that] constitute what we call a religious landscape today, understood both in terms of its visible materiality and metaphorically as a spectrum of multifarious, negotiated religious identities” (Scheid-Polignac 2010, p. 430-1), propose a specific approach to sanctuaries.
This workshop will explore a deliberately broad chronological framework, from Archaic Greece to the late Roman world, and highly varied corpus of texts and images so as to put to the text the very notion of “landscape” in Antiquity and to attempt to understand what is really at stake in the production of a “framework” for representation or a “place,” perceived visually in an image or in a text. What are the aesthetic and symbolic stakes of such representations ? Their strategies of focalization ? What do these images and texts tell us about the ancients’ relationship with spectacle(s) of nature ?

> Finished Projects

– 9-10 décembre 2011 : 1ère table ronde internationale à Paris (INHA) : « La représentation de la nature dans l’art grec de l’époque archaïque à l’époque hellénistique (1) »
– 18-19 mai 2012 : 2e table ronde internationale à Paris (INHA) : « La représentation de la nature dans l’art grec de l’époque archaïque à l’époque hellénistique (2) »
– 21 février 2013 atelier à Paris : dossier expostion
– 6-8 septembre 2013 : Incontro Internazionale di Studi à l’Université de Salerne « La Natura nel Mondo Greco »

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