Visual Ethnography, Thick Description and Cultural Representation


  • Dipesh Kharel University of Tokyo, Japan



Visual Ethnography, Thick Description, Photography and Ethnographic Film


The purposes of this paper are threefold: to cover historical, theoretical and methodological overview of visual ethnography (photography and film) as a research tool in studying culture; to examine visual ethnography as a means of cultural representation, and to discuss visual ethnographic method with Clifford Geertz’s idea of “thick description”. I hope to bring some clarity and consensus to our understanding how visual ethnography can be an adequate research tool for “thick description” and a study of culture. Furthermore, in this paper, I begin by seeing visual ethnography in the context to visual anthropology, photography, ethnographic film, and semiotics.


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Author Biography

Dipesh Kharel, University of Tokyo, Japan

Kharel, Dipesh is a JSPS (Japan Society for the Promotion Science) PhD research fellow at the University of Tokyo, Japan. He has got MPhil degree in visual anthropology at University of Tromso, Norway in 2006. Dipesh has conducted visual ethnographic fieldwork in Thami slate mining community in rural Nepal. He has already produced several award-wining ethnographic films, most remarkable "A life with slate" and "Playing with nan” which have been screened at several international film festivals around the world and won several prizes, such as Best Debut Film Prize at Film South Asia, Best Material Cultural Film Prize in RAI international festival film in UK 2007, Best Documentary Prize at Kathmandu International Film Festival 2013, David Plath Media Award 2014 at American Anthropological Association, Washington DC. His main research interests are in visual anthropology, globalization, migration, social change, and climate change.




How to Cite

Kharel, D. (2015). Visual Ethnography, Thick Description and Cultural Representation. Dhaulagiri Journal of Sociology and Anthropology, 9, 147–160.