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By Lisa Stevenson

Cite As:
Stevenson, Lisa. 2020. “Looking Away”. Cultural Anthropology 35 (1):6–13.


This essay turns to Roland Barthes’s concept of the punctum and John Berger’s writing on portraiture to describe the care involved in both anthropological encounters and ethnographic writing. It addresses how images—whether, photographic, painted, or written—may come to be seen as “just.” The essay considers the possibility that it might be necessary to look away from our interlocutors, or the images we have of them, in order to be able to sense, and then communicate to others, their singularity. The traces they leave behind in our memories can allow us to register an aliveness that exceeds our existing labels, categories, and styles of thinking.


care; images; representation