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This presentation is about ways of knowing how race comes to matter in the practice of police facial composite drawing.

Detail Summary
Date 9 July 2018
Time 15:30 - 17:00
Location Roeterseilandcampus - building B/C/D (entrance B/C)
Room Common Room Anthropology B 5.12

Researching technologies of vision in the setting of criminal investigations, we encountered a mundane problem, namely limitations to use visual material collected in the field due to its sensitive nature. In order to advance our analysis of technologies of vision and the production of (visual) differences in the context of facial composite drawing, we developed an experimental film project in collaboration with two of our interlocutors. We produced an experimental setting in which we worked together with the forensic artists.

We recorded the process using different technologies, as such producing different materializations of the event: written text, audiotape, film, drawing, sensorial experience. The experimental setting opened up a reflexive space for all participants, albeit not necessarily in the same way.

Tinkering with the generated materials allowed us to carefully analyze the enactment and slipperiness of race in practice. This presentation combines written text with experimental montage to address three different practices through which race seems to take shape in the process of making facial composite drawings:

  1. haptic vision;
  2. layering and surfacing; and
  3. overlooking the normal

About the lecturers

Ryanne Bleumink is a PhD candidate in the RaceFaceID project. She studied Cultural Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam and Global Criminology at Utrecht University. In the RaceFaceID project, Ryanne studies forensic identification techniques as they relate to race, focusing on the making and dissemination of facial composites in which a face is “given” to an unknown perpetrator. As part of her research, she conducted fieldwork at the Dutch police.

Lisette Jong studied sociology and anthropology at the University of Amsterdam where she developed an interest in feminist science studies. As a PhD candidate in the RaceFaceID project, her research focuses on how practices of forensic craniofacial identification and reconstruction give faces to unknown individuals. Besides studying skulls, Lisette enjoys teaching and playing roller derby.

Ildikó Zonga Plájás graduated in visual ethnography from Leiden University in the Netherlands. Her film Swamp Dialogues — a visual anthropological analysis of the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve in Romania — has been screened at more than two dozen international film festivals and was awarded several prizes. Following graduation, Ildikó has been a guest lecturer at Leiden University and she is currently a PhD candidate in the RaceFaceID project.

For more information about the RaceFaceID project see:

Roeterseilandcampus - building B/C/D (entrance B/C)
Roeterseilandcampus - building B/C/D (entrance B/C)

Room Common Room Anthropology B 5.12

Nieuwe Achtergracht 166
1018 WV Amsterdam

About the seminar series

In this seminar series the relevance and irrelevance of race is being discussed as an object and concept of research in order to explore ways to talk about race without naturalizing differences. The series goes beyond a standard definition of race, one that is allegedly relevant everywhere, and situates race in specific practices of research. In addition the series gives room to the various different versions of race that can be found in the European context and explores when and how populations, religions, and cultures become naturalized and racialized. Scholars from different (inter)disciplinary fields (such as genetics, anthropology, philosophy, cultural studies, history, political sciences, science and technology studies) are invited to address the issue of race through a paper presentation. The seminar is held every six weeks at the University of Amsterdam. Go to webpage seminar series.