Visualising traditional performance: 'co-directed observation' as an ethnographic tool

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'Co-directed observation' is a methodology in photography in which a cultural performer is interviewed while co-directing his/her performance for the camera.This method, discovered in research on ritual wailing of Yemenite-Jewish women in Israel in 2001-2005, tackles the fact of the decline of this cultural phenomenon, its stereotyped social images and, above all, the character of the women performers who identify with and are immensely knowledgeable about it.Co-directed observation (CDO) makes its main contribution by adding a dynamic dimension to the documentation in a way that applies the photo-voice orientation in visual anthropology.CDO proves to be an especially effective ethnographic tool for the collection of data in situations where performers find it difficult to explain their performative knowledge.This article describes the CDO method as discovered in and applied to the research topic - characteristics of the Yemenite-Jewish wailing culture - and reports the specific findings that this method elicited.It also discusses main characteristics and advantages of the method.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-212
Number of pages15
JournalVisual Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2011


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