Anna Ansell

doctoral/PhD student at Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology, Cultural Anthropology

Email:
anna.ansell[AT-sign]antro.uu.se
Telephone:
+4618-471 2282
Visiting address:
Thunbergsvägen 3 H
Postal address:
Box 631
751 26 UPPSALA

Short presentation

I am interested in self-representation, social spaces, social networks and identity construction through image making on mobile phones. The purpose of the proposed thesis is to look at social media photography, visibility and identity construction among women in Tanzania in order to investigate how gender, class, religion and ethnicity interconnect through practices of social media photography to form identities.

Also available at

My courses

Biography

I have my bachelor’s degree in art history, economic history and cultural anthropology from Uppsala University. I received my master’s degree in social anthropology from the University of Oxford – it was during my master thesis that I developed an interest in social media photography and I explored how Muslim women in East Africa interact and use this changing medium in relation to questions surrounding Islam and piety. My PhD project will investigate self-representation, social networks and identity construction through image making on mobile phones of young urban women in Tanzania. Taking from my background in art history will be an important aspiration for this upcoming project.

Research

MORE THAN JUST A SELFIE.

The visual practices made available through mobile phones allow digital photography and social media to play an important role in “connecting people globally”. In the proposed study, I wish to consider this global communicative aspect and discover how young urban women in Tanzania use this possibility. How does it affect their awareness of other realities and spaces that transcend their physical bodies? What does this visual information mean for these young women and how is it interwoven into their self- representation and identity making? The handling of photos raises questions surrounding public versus private spaces. Another interesting question I wish to investigate is do Tanzanian women in 2018 “pursue modernity” through social media photography? What is “modernity” as they see it, and do they use online platforms as spaces of identity making and self-image storage? Does the fact that women have mobile phones and use social media mean they are striving for modernity?

Through engagement with social media photography, women have the power to portray themselves in everyday life, in moments of their own choosing; they can build up the setting to their liking. They are engaging with their own visibility. This process is more than just taking a selfie; it is a form of social representation that raises profound questions about identity construction, power and agency.

Publications

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