Anna Ansell


Anna Ansell , doctoral student
in Cultural Anthropology

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.

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