PhD thesis: Photographic Design Anthropology: Becoming through Diffractive Image making and Entangled Visions in a Copenhagen Immigrant Youth Context


How do we intra-act with ethnographic photography in response-able ways? How do we look at worlds with care? What does it mean to see with someone, instead of looking at them? Can you ever see what I see? Can I ever see what you see?

Lene Hald’s PhD thesis Photographic Design Anthropology: Becoming through Diffractive Image making and Entangled Visions in a Copenhagen Immigrant Youth Context is concerned with a specific entanglement of skilled visions, photography, design (research), participation, social exploration of identity and the thinking of feminist technoscience.

The field engagement unfolds among a group of young immigrant girls in Copenhagen, DK. Here the becoming of identities through images is explored through photographic and designerly program-experiments. These photographic program-experiments exemplify a designerly way of thinking about, with and through photography pointing to ways photography intra-act with sense of self. Focus has been on meeting and understanding the girls as highly capable and response-able co-researchers carrying visual skills that matter. In the project, the participating girls and Lene Hald have produced photographs, while drawing on photography as a source of feedback in a performative circular process. In this way method and matter emerge together and are made together.

Furthermore, the dissertation diffracts specific uses and understandings of photography within the respective fields of design (practice and research), social research and feminist technoscience. Lene Hald propose that if we emphasize how the various fields care for and relate to photography, but do it in different ways – then we are able to identify differences that matter; differences that can help us formulate and exemplify a proposal for photographic design anthropology.

Diffraction is used as a guiding metaphor for challenging essentialist categories and binaries such as us/them, researcher/subject, image/body. Through a diffractive methodology of reading through one another, the project explores ways of seeing, illuminates poetics and makes readable the process itself, as a counter to objectification. Overall, the project ads a response-able and diffractive photographic practice to the design anthropological repertoire, thereby, envisioning a proposal for photographic design anthropology.

The PhD project was carried out at KADK and funded by KEA. Please contact Lene Hald if you are interested in a digital version of the PhD dissertation:


About Lene Hald

Lene Hald has a background in visual communication design and photography. In her PhD work she has explored themes of participatory practice in relation to photography and feminist techno science. She is interested in how presenting ethnographic work and other types of research in visual form will enable us to reach out to audiences beyond academic communities, which potentially can help to facilitate new and transformative understandings and interpretations to social issues. During her PhD works she was part of Centre for Co-design at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Design.  She is currently involved in a research and innovation project on death, memory, photography and design at KEA – School of Design and Technology, where she also teaches photography, and visual design anthropology.



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