UCL Anthropology


Yunchang Yang

UCL Email: yunchang.yang.15@ucl.ac.uk
Websites: http://www.yunchangyang.net
Year of Start: 2015
Supervisors: Christopher Pinney, Hannah Knox
Subject: Material, Digital and Visual Culture
Fieldsite: China

PhD Research

Photography and social life: An ethnography of Chinese amateur photography online

By studying the production (What cameras do they use? How do they organize a photographic event?), circulation (China-based Internet platforms, involving institutional studies based on a fieldwork in China) and consumption (Which sort of photographs do they prefer? Why?) of photography, as well as their photographic aesthetic strategies, this research attempts to provide academic insights for some different but overlapping anthropological categories: self-identification and conspicuous consumption, the "flow" of digital photographs and the elite imagination, cosmopolitanism and social stratification of China, and 'kitsch' aesthetic as a means of acquiring social embedded-ness. The research furthermore aims to create theoretical dialogues with recent anthropological theories and establish a research framework in studying the production, circulation and consumption of digital media, which attempts to reconcile Durkheimian positivism sociology and Latourian Actor-Network-Theory (ANT).

Research Interests

  • Visual Culture
  • Photography
  • Anthropology of Media
  • Art Theory
  • Anthropology of China


(Book Chapter in Chinese) Yang (2016)  "The Anthropology of Landscape: A Change of Generating the Knowledge" in Landscape Geography. ed. Zeng, X. Beijing: Posts & Telecom Press
(English and Chinese) Yang (2016) "Capitalist Realism through Contemporary Photography: A Critical Anticipation" in LEAP Magazine, Issue 39
(Chinese) Yang. Y. (2016) "Photographic Methodology under an Anthropological Perspective", China Photo Press, vol. 26
Yang, Y. (2016) "A review of Building a History of Experimental Photography of Ruins in Chinese Demolition" on dissertationreview.org, online published: http://dissertationreviews.org/archives/13559

Presentations & Conferences

"Photography and Social Life: Outlining an Ethnography of Chinese Amateur Photography Online" on the 1st Tencent-SYSU Conference for Internet Anthropology, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China

Education History

  • PhD Candidate Material and Visual Culture, UCL, London, UK (2015-present)
  • MA Anthropology of Media, SOAS, London, UK (2013-2014)
  • LLB Anthropology, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China (2009-2013)
  • Visiting student, University of California, Berkeley (2012)

Additional Information

Selected Group Exhibitions:
  • (forthcoming, photobook) The Call of Sensation, Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai, 2017
  • (Photobook) This is not a Tombstone, Three Shadows Photography Centre, Beijing, 2016
  • "Xitek 2015 New Talent" Group Exhibition, China Century Monument, Beijing, 2015
  • "Singularity" British Rain Group Exhibition, The Hoxton Basement, London, 2015
  • "Organic Iconography" Go East Project Group Exhibition, Aotu Studio, Beijing, 2015
    Curatorial Works:
    • "The Logic of Sensation" Double Solo Exhibitions, China Design Centre, London, 2016
    • "Singularity" British Rain Group Exhibition, The Hoxton Basement, London, 2015