Resources2021-04-29T07:47:41+00:00

Books and Chapters


Drawing-Writing Culture: The Truth-Fiction Spectrum of an Ethno-Graphic Novel on the Sri Lankan Civil War and Migration

With our focus on an “ethno-graphic novel” on the Sri Lankan civil war and the forcible displacement and migration of Tamil survivors, we make two main propositions while reflecting on the “graphic narrative turn” that has emerged in anthropology in recent years. First, we inscribe drawing into the “writing of cultures” where words have held a superior status in ethnographic representations. Rather than seeing drawings as perceptive tools for recording scenes in fieldwork alone, we extend them to a representational practice where they can have a deep, intricate, and equivalent entanglement with words to create synchronous affective intensities among a larger audience. Our second proposal follows Jean Rouch on cinéma vérité to interrogate assumptions about truth and fiction as portrayed by film representations. We propose a theory and practice for graphic novel production that we have termed vérités graphiques (literally, graphic realities). This describes the collaborative and interactive engagement with people’s contributions and views, and their distillation and fictionalization through the ethno-graphic form. We diverge from cinéma vérité, however, by highlighting a truth-fiction spectrum that further challenges the presumed objectivity of what is seen, experienced, co-created, and revealed.

 

Reference

Dix, Benjamin, and Raminder Kaur. “Drawing-Writing Culture: The Truth-Fiction Spectrum of an Ethno-Graphic Novel on the Sri Lankan Civil War and Migration.” Visual Anthropology Review, vol. 35, no. 1, 2019, pp. 76–111.

Digital Object Lessons and Their Precursors

The fundamental argument of this book is that we need to pay attention to the specific contexts, as well as materialities, of digital objects and that digital media in museums exist in a long-standing continuum or process of mediation, technological mimesis and objectification. In an exchange of comment in the journal Science, Franz Boas argued with his colleague O.T. Mason about the purpose and nature of museum collections. The debate emerged from the growing museological tension between the spectacular nature of individual objects and their contextualisation within academic and scientific knowledge systems.

 

Reference

Geismar, Haidy. “Digital Object Lessons and Their Precursors.” Museum Object Lessons for the Digital Age, UCL Press, 2018, pp. 11–27

Discretions

Most ethnological research trips ended quite literally at the knowledge of the gods. Not only those of writers like Leiris and Artaud, but also the anthropological journeys of Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead to Bali and that of Maya Deren to Haiti. Film footage of rites and rituals was supposed be made at a distance, in the field. Nevertheless, an unexpected interference of cultural effects appears between the ones filming and the objects of their anthropological investigations.

 

Reference

Holl, Ute. “Discretions.” Cinema, Trance and Cybernetics, Amsterdam University Press, 2017, pp. 57–76.

Exercise Musk-OX: The Challenges of Filming a Military Expedition in Canada’s Arctic

Canada’s Arctic has always attracted explorers to its vast expanses to stake claims or to study its natural resources and its people. Motion picture film has played an important role in documenting those who have ventured to frozen lands to explore Northern regions. In films shot by either amateur or professional filmmakers, the common theme is often one of survival. This paper explores the journey of members of the British-Canadian Arctic Expedition (1936–40), and Exercise Musk-Ox (1946), who under very challenging conditions braved the elements, along with their motion picture cameras, just as many explorers who came before and after them.

 

Reference

Holloway, Caroline Forcier. “EXERCISE MUSK-OX:: THE CHALLENGES OF FILMING A MILITARY EXPEDITION IN CANADA’S ARCTIC.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 245–54.

The Tour: A Film About Longyearbyen, Svalbard. An Interview with Eva La Cour

The Tour is a video montage produced as part of a thesis on Media and Visual Anthropology at the Freie Universität in Berlin, based on fieldwork in Longyearbyen on Svalbard in 2011 – a Norwegian archipelago in the High Arctic. Here I focused on a set of research questions around the relationship between lived and projected realities on Svalbard, which I sought to explore among a group of taxi drivers and by working as a taxi driver myself.

 

Reference

Ihle, Johanne Haaber. “The Tour: A Film About Longyearbyen, Svalbard. An Interview with Eva La Cour.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 255–60.

A Gentle Gaze On The Colony: Jette Bang’s Documentary Filming In Greenland 1938–9

Among a memorable series of Arctic explorers, scientists and adventurers during the past centuries, few women stand out. One exception is Jette Bang (1914–64), who produced photographic and filmic documentation of Greenland from 1937 onwards. Her extraordinary number of high-quality photographs, now available in a vast digital archive, had a profound influence upon Danish and Greenlandic perceptions of life in Greenland during and after World War II. Her early films, in contrast, were widely neglected and have only recently been made available. In particular the film material she recorded in 1938–9 in West Greenland demands further attention.

 

Reference

Jørgensen, Anne Mette. “A Gentle Gaze On The Colony: Jette Bang’s Documentary Filming In Greenland 1938–9.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 235–44.

Northern Exposures and Marginal Critiques: the Politics of Sovereignty in Sámi Cinema

In 2012, the Finnish Film Foundation (FFF) established a funding initiative devoted to developing Sámi film production, a move marking a significant development acknowledging the marginal status of Sámi cinema within the Nordic countries. While the fund is part of the FFF’s focus on developing marginal film production practices and themes, and thus not a long-term charity case, its introduction is indicative of a range of key considerations. First, Sámi cinema has received increased attention in the Nordic countries in the 2000s as both a filmmaking practice and a topic of representation.

 

Reference

Kääpä, Pietari. “Northern Exposures and Marginal Critiques: the Politics of Sovereignty in Sámi Cinema.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 45–58.

From Dreamland to Homeland: A Journey Toward Futures Different Than Pasts

This chapter provides an artists-scholars’ reflection on the experience of and inspiration behind the making of an essayistic documentary for the twenty-first century: Dreamland by Britt Kramvig and Rachel Andersen Gomez (Norway, 2016). Depicting people, places, and events in Sápmi, the film melds past and present. A line from the poem “Dream-Land” (1844) by Edgar Allan Poe inspired the film’s title, signaling the purposeful interweaving of multiple influences, traditions, and paradigms. The film is conceived as a theoretical and aesthetic intervention, featuring an Indigenous anthropologist performing as an “earthling”, that is, a figure committed to telling new stories…

 

Reference

Kramvig, Britt, and Rachel Andersen Gomez. “From Dreamland to Homeland: A Journey Toward Futures Different Than Pasts.” Arctic Cinemas and the Documentary Ethos, edited by Lilya Kaganovsky et al., Indiana University Press, 2019, pp. 322–34.

Embodied Visual Meaning in Film

This chapter presents an embodied account of visual meaning-making in cinema. Borrowing insights from cognitive linguistics, and in particular Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT), we intend to show how film is an exemplary case of embodied, immanent meaning. What do we mean when we say that the meaning of particular visual features in film is grounded in sensory-motor experience? And what role do image schemas play in the conveyance of abstract thought in film? These are some of the questions that we are going to address in this chapter. We start our essay with a brief discussion and criticism of the traditional conceptual view of meaning according to which meaning is considered solely as a property of language. Secondly, we show how an embodied view of meaning offers an alternative to the propositional view of meaning. We conclude our contribution with an analysis of two examples of embodied visual meaning in cinema. More specifically, we demonstrate how image schemas serve as important solutions to the problem of how to represent abstract concepts in film.

 

Reference

Kravanja, Peter, and Maarten Coëgnarts. Embodied Visual Meaning in Film. 2015, pp. 63–80.

Women Arctic Explorers: in Front of and Behind the Camera

Cameras have been brought on expeditions to the Far North for over a century. Explorers who were also filmmakers include Anthony Fiala on the Ziegler Polar Expedition (1903–05), Donald MacMillan on the Crocker Land Expedition (1913–17), Fyodor Bremer on the Kolyma voyage to the Bering Strait, the Far East, and Kamchatka (1913–1914), and Leo Hansen as part of Knud Rasmussen’s Fifth Thule Expedition on dog sled from Greenland to Alaska (1921–24).

 

Reference

Larsson, Mariah, and Anna Westerstahl Stenport. “Women Arctic Explorers: in Front of and Behind the Camera.” Arctic Cinemas and the Documentary Ethos, edited by Anna Westerstahl Stenport et al., Indiana University Press, 2019, pp. 68–91.

The Creative Treatment of Alterity: Nanook as the North

This chapter considers Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North (US, 1922) – probably the most famous Arctic film ever made – and the many, often fraught, reiterations of the film in the cinematic imaginary of the Arctic. Starting with Flaherty’s film – typically understood to be, pace John Grierson, the first ‘documentary’ – the chapter examines the ways in which the stories of ‘Nanook’ (played by Inuit hunter Allakariallak) and Flaherty have been continuously rearticulated throughout cinema history, in works as diverse as realist ethnographic documentaries like Nanook Revisited (Claude Massot, France, 1990), narrative feature film retellings of Flaherty’s filming…

 

Reference

MacKenzie, Scott. “The Creative Treatment of Alterity: Nanook as the North.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 201–14.

Scouting the Past: A Conversation with Priya Jaikumar on Where Histories Reside: India as Filmed Space

Kartik Nair in conversation with Priya Jaikumar about her new book, Where Histories Reside: India as Filmed Space.

 

Reference

Nair, Kartik. “Scouting the Past: A Conversation with Priya Jaikumar on Where Histories Reside: India as Filmed Space.” Film Quarterly, 10 Sept. 2019, https://filmquarterly.org/2019/09/10/scouting-the-past-a-conversation-with-priya-jaikumar-on-where-histories-reside-india-as-filmed-space/.

We Come As Friends’, or Do We? Hubert Sauper’s New Documentary on South Sudan

We Come As Friends is about as idiosyncratic a film as I could imagine — visually stunning, lyrically composed, hilariously opinionated — meaning it may not be a smash hit at the box office when it is released in theaters this Friday, but anyone who sees it is in for the closest we’ll ever come to a hybridization of Michael Moore and the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab. That is never going to happen, so you have to check this out.

 

Reference

Roston, Tom. “‘We Come As Friends’, or Do We? Hubert Sauper’s New Documentary on South Sudan.” POV’s Documentary Blog, http://archive.pov.org/blog/docsoup/2015/08/we-come-as-friends-or-do-we-hubert-saupers-new-documentary-on-south-sudan/.

Arctic Travelogues: Conquering the Soviet North

Early Soviet policies towards the numerically small Northern and Far Eastern indigenous populations emerged from a nineteenth-century populist framework that saw cultural extinction as a major problem (Kuper 1988: 2–3). In the early 1920s, the Soviet press frequently presented the situation of the indigenous population of the North as ‘worsening’, ‘becoming harder’, and finally reaching a ‘catastrophic’ stage (cf. Ianovich 1923: 251–4; Slezkine 1994: 131–83). Soviet nationality policy, defined by Francine Hirsch as a ‘state-sponsored evolutionism’, grounded the Soviet ‘civilizing mission’ in the Marxist concept of development through historical stages (Hirsch 2005: 7).

 

Reference

Sarkisova, Oksana. “Arctic Travelogues: Conquering the Soviet North.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 222–34.

From Objects to Actors: Knud Rasmussen’s Ethnographic Feature Film the Wedding of Palo

During the summer months of 1932 and 1933, the 7th Thule Expedition led an international team of researchers, under Knud Rasmussen’s guidance, to Greenland’s east coast. There, the team conducted cartographic work, as well as archaeological and geological investigations. In 1921, Denmark had declared the entirety of Greenland and its surrounding waters to be Danish territory, and had since that time been in open conflict with Norway. The Norwegians, independent since 1905, regarded Greenland as their historical property, and recognised only the colonies situated on the west coast as Danish territory.

 

Reference

Volquardsen, Ebbe. “From Objects to Actors: Knud Rasmussen’s Ethnographic Feature Film the Wedding of Palo.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 215–21.

Ethnography


Director/DP Luke Lorentzen on Making Midnight Family as a Solo Shooter (with Two Cameras)

In Mexico City, there are only 45 publicly operated ambulances for a population of nine-million-plus, creating a need filled by private labor. Luke Lorentzen, whose first feature New York Cuts premiered at IDFA in 2015, embedded himself with one privately operated ambulance run as a family business, tagging along night after night. Operating as his own shooter for Midnight Family, Lorentzen’s sophomore feature is a formally controlled, sympathetically embedded portrait of multiple instances of economic inequity (with car chases!). Via email, the director/DP spoke to the challenges of operating two cameras as a solo shooter, depending on Mexico City’s existing nighttime light and using only one prime lens.

 

Reference

“Director/DP Luke Lorentzen on Making Midnight Family as a Solo Shooter (with Two Cameras).” Filmmaker Magazine, https://filmmakermagazine.com/106823-director-dp-luke-lorentzen-on-making-midnight-family-as-a-solo-shooter-with-two-cameras/.

Inclusive Sensory Ethnography: Studying New Media and Neurodiversity in Everyday Life

Media and communication studies has recently begun to ethnographically explore the sensory dimensions of how individuals experience and perceive technology. This turn toward the sensorial has centered primarily on the five “external” senses (sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste) and less so on “internal” vestibular and proprioceptive systems that concern bodily spatial positioning. I propose inclusive sensory ethnography to account for greater neurodiversity in how humans process sensory input, as well as a fuller range of multi-sensory encounters with new media. I ground this conceptualization in a qualitative study of young children on the autism spectrum with difficulties processing sensory information and their social engagements with print, screen, and interactive media. Inclusive sensory ethnography reveals novel understandings of how the internal senses shape and are shaped by mediated relationships, practices, and intimacies. I discuss further implications for how disability and inclusive sensory ethnography can enrich the study of everyday technology use.

 

Reference

Alper, Meryl. “Inclusive Sensory Ethnography: Studying New Media and Neurodiversity in Everyday Life.” New Media & Society, vol. 20, no. 10, Oct. 2018, pp. 3560–79

Ethnographic Films: Supporting Visual Assignments

Earlier this spring, our Center supported a graduate course in ethnographic research methods. The students were assigned to make short ethnographic digital films informed by a theory they had encountered in the course. The instructor wanted to introduce them to current film projects that embrace more experimental approaches to work in the discipline. I was intrigued by this opportunity to address visual argument beyond the familiar topics of slide design, poster design, and data presentation; ours is a relatively new center (we opened in 2012) and supporting visual communication is an important part of our mission…

 

Reference

Ambrose, Josh. “Ethnographic Films: Supporting Visual Assignments.” Connecting Writing Centers Across Borders (CWCAB), 3 Feb. 2016, https://www.wlnjournal.org/blog/2016/02/ethnographic-films-a-different-kind-of-workshop/.

The Photographs of Baluev: Capturing the ‘Socialist Transformation’ of the Krasnoyarsk Northern Frontier, 1938-1939

The craft of photography played an important role in the construction of early Soviet society. In western Europe and the Americas, the early Soviet period is associated with repressions and the blacking-out and forced amnesia of portraits and other representations. It is less known that photographers and photographic equipment were widespread, not only capturing faces for identity documents and staged, instructive scenes, but also giving glimpses of a new society and new subjectivities coming into being. The photographs of the period should not be read merely as superficial political instruments, although they were also undoubtedly used that way.

 

Reference

Anderson, David G., et al. “The Photographs of Baluev:: Capturing the ‘Socialist Transformation’ of the Krasnoyarsk Northern Frontier, 1938-1939.” From Dust to Digital, edited by Maja Kominko, 1st ed., Open Book Publishers, 2015, pp. 487–530.

Filming Fore, Shooting Scientists: Medical Research, Experimental Filmmaking, and Documentary Cinema

After World War II the research film increasingly became instrumental in medical science and cultural anthropology, especially in the recording and analysis of non-recurring events in isolated or “primitive” communities. Ambitiously, Carleton Gajdusek and Richard Sorenson in the 1960s sought to accumulate a global film archive of such communities, focusing on clinical disorders, such as kuru among the Fore people of New Guinea, and patterns of child health and development. Ostensibly objective, and certainly distancing, the camera also was for them a desiring machine, thus relating their archival project to the contemporary experimental films of Warhol in New York. Comparison with associated documentary film, with its emphasis on editorial selection, thematic coherence and narrative closure, reveals differences in how filmic investigators engage with their subjects, as well as discordances in valuation and ethics.

 

Reference

Anderson, Warwick. “Filming Fore, Shooting Scientists: Medical Research, Experimental Filmmaking, and Documentary Cinema.” Visual Anthropology, vol. 32, no. 2, Mar. 2019, pp. 109–27.

Jean Rouch’s Moi, Un Noir in the French New Wave

This article highlights the significance of Jean Rouch’s experimental ethnographic film Moi, un Noir (1958) in the genesis of the quintessential New Wave film, À bout de souffle (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960), taking seriously the idea expressed by several critics of the time that À bout de souffle was an ethnography of French youth. Following a close reading of Moi, un Noir and comparative readings of Moi, un Noir, À bout de souffle, and their French reception, the author briefly highlights Rouch’s influence on the other key film of the New Wave, Les 400 coups (François Truffaut, 1959). Rouch’s influence on the two emblematic films of the New Wave is particularly significant in light of his own turn, after years filming in France’s sub-Saharan African colonies, to making several films in metropolitan France. The central aim of this article is to elucidate the role of Rouch in the New Wave. An ancillary aim is to show that Moi, un Noir and À bout de souffle mark two key points in a striking shift in the cutting-edge French cinema of the late 1950s and 1960s: a growing inclination to survey metropolitan France as a suddenly exotic space, and to conceive of the French as viable ethnographic subjects.

 

Reference

Astourian, Laure. “Jean Rouch’s Moi, Un Noir in the French New Wave.” Studies in French Cinema, vol. 18, no. 3, July 2018, pp. 252–66.

Unknown Continents: A Conversation with Authors Patricia Zimmermann and Scott MacDonald

More than an anniversary reflection, The Flaherty is an opportunity to revisit the critical debates that shaped film at some of the most crucial junctures of its history. As seen in the history of the organization, and often as a direct result of the seminar itself, the past 60 years were the ones in which documentary, avant-garde, and independent film emerged as powerful cultural forces in their own right. Outside of commercial cinema, these types of films were undoubtedly new and provocative—little wonder that they generated such heated discussions. In today’s embattled moment, when the forms and institutions of cinema have profoundly changed, and when the call for the arts to respond to the troubled political landscape has grown louder and more urgent, The Flaherty allows the reader to reconsider the struggles of the past: to follow, to learn from, and perhaps, to be newly inspired by them.

 

Reference

Baer, Genevieve. “Unknown Continents: A Conversation with Authors Patricia Zimmermann and Scott MacDonald.” Film Quarterly, 18 Sept. 2017, https://filmquarterly.org/2017/09/18/unknown-continents-a-conversation-with-authors-patricia-zimmermann-and-scott-macdonald/.

Archiveology

Nicholas Baer interviews Catherine Russell about her new book Archiveology: Walter Benjamin and Archival Film Practices.

 

Reference

Baer, Nicholas. “Archiveology.” Film Quarterly, 1 Mar. 2018, https://filmquarterly.org/2018/03/01/archiveology/.

Creando Espacio Para La Etnografía Visual En La Investigación Educativa

This article maps the territory of visual ethnography as a key and accessible research methodology in education. It aims to provide an overview and to present theory and practice for future research. The origins and principles of visual ethnography are disclosed as well as some methods to gather data. From the premise that either created by the researcher, by the participants, or through collaboration between both, images may be the core of analysis of social and cultural views and perceptions of students, educators, administrators and community members. The author addresses ethical issues like confidentiality, and highlights possible biases like authenticity, negotiated construction, trustworthiness, and deception of information. The main conclusions highlighted the importance of visual ethnography as a key methodology to elicit rich data that access students’ voices, the space for participatory techniques, and the role of technology as an undeniable participant.

 

Reference

Barrantes-Elizondo, Lena. “Creando Espacio Para La Etnografía Visual En La Investigación Educativa.” Revista Electrónica Educare, vol. 23, no. 2, Feb. 2019, pp. 1–15.

Film the Police! Cop-Watching and Its Embodied Narratives

Police accountability organizations known as ‘cop-watching’ groups are proliferating thanks to smartphone penetration and the ease of video sharing on social networks. These groups use digital media technologies to challenge official accounts of events and encroach on the borders of traditional journalism. This qualitative project collected material over the course of 2 years, and uses participant observation and long-form interviews to explore the nature of this activism. Grounded analysis suggests that cop-watching represents a unique form of citizenship; one that combines text and practice to produce embodied narratives, which can give voice to the concerns of others. As a form of so-called sousveillance, cop-watching extends and complicates existing theories about surveillance, journalism, and visual evidence.

 

Reference

Bock, Mary Angela. “Film the Police! Cop-Watching and Its Embodied Narratives.” Journal of Communication, vol. 66, no. 1, Feb. 2016, pp. 13–34.

Cinema of Emancipation and Zacharias Kunuk’s Atanarjuat: the Fast Runner

Set in Igloolik in Canada’s Eastern Arctic over 1,000 years ago and performed in the Inuit language Inuktitut, Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, directed by Zacharias Kunuk, is widely celebrated as a landmark in Indigenous film production in North America and elsewhere. The film was produced by Igloolik Isuma Productions, the first independent Inuit production company which was co-founded by Kunuk, Paul Apak Angilirq and the cinematographer of the film and one of the few non-Inuit crew members Norman Cohn.

 

Reference

Bohr, Marco. “Cinema of Emancipation and Zacharias Kunuk’s Atanarjuat: the Fast Runner.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 84–96.

The Flesh of The Perceptible’: The New Materialism of Leviathan

This article seeks to entangle two current philosophic praxes: New Materialism, and Sensory Ethnography. Jane Bennett has become one of New Materialism’s most prominent proponents since the release of her now-seminal text, Vibrant Matter in 2010. Due to the varied ground upon which New Materialism stands (often conflated with object-oriented ontology, post-humanism, and other general turns within nonhumanism), Bennett’s work will be looked at idiosyncratically, then pushed into the realm of the cinematic via an analysis of the documentary, Leviathan. Directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel, this film was among the first exemplary works to emerge from the Sensory Ethnography Lab, based at Harvard University. In striving for a revitalization of ethnographic film practices, the Lab aligns itself with similarly non-anthropocentric, and nondiscursive, aspects of experience to the New Materialism of Jane Bennett. By placing these two contemporary camps into conversation, this article intends to reposition them both: New Materialism as a vehicle for the Sensory Ethnographic, and the SEL as an exhibition of the kind of world Bennett’s philosophy envisages. The article concludes with an assessment of the political and eco-political critiques and ramifications surrounding these works.

 

Reference

Bowens, Max. “‘The Flesh of The Perceptible’: The New Materialism of Leviathan.” Film-Philosophy, vol. 22, no. 3, Oct. 2018, pp. 428–47.

‘Who Were We? And What Happened to Us?’: Inuit Memory and Arctic Futures in Igloolik Isuma Film and Video

When Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner burst onto the international film scene in 2001 with its Camera d’Or win for director Zacharias Kunuk at Cannes, attention was suddenly focused on a small Inuit production company in the Canadian Eastern Arctic. Igloolik Isuma Productions, the world’s first majority Inuit-owned independent film and video production company, was incorporated in 1990 and forced into bankruptcy in 2011. While to national and global audiences it may have seemed that Atanarjuat appeared from nowhere, the film was the cumulative result of Isuma’s ten years of community-based film and video production in the Inuktitut language.

 

Reference

Bredin, Marian. “‘Who Were We? And What Happened to Us?’: Inuit Memory and Arctic Futures in Igloolik Isuma Film and Video.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 33–44.

We Kill Our Own: Towards a Material Ecology of Farm Life

Drawing from fieldwork conducted over several months at a small Appalachian goat farm, experimental prose is coupled with affect-based critiques of human exceptionalism to uncover the rhythmic and vibrant relations of human/nonhuman interdependence (Gruen 5). Taking seriously the posthuman call to reimagine animal, human, and material relations, we envision farming as a rhythmic and affect-laden atmosphere of habit, co-constitution, and vibrant materiality.

 

Reference

Broderick, Michael, and Sean Gleason. “We Kill Our Own: Towards a Material Ecology of Farm Life.” Text & Performance Quarterly, vol. 36, no. 4, Oct. 2016, pp. 250–64.

 

Sensuous Ethnography

Brunner-Sung features filmmaker Chick Strand. Sensuous, deeply felt, rigorous, uncompromising — the work of Strand belongs in the canon of avant-garde cinema alongside that of her contemporaries Stan Brakhage and Bruces Baillie. As co-founder with Baillie of the floating cinematheque’ Canyon Cinema in 1961, Strand helped create an audience for experimental filmmakers, which she maintained over 24 years as a professor in Los Angeles. Her own mastery of poetic abstraction, found footage and lyrical ethnography make her filmography one of the most dynamic and distinctive of an era. An anthropology student who went onto study ethnographic film, Strand is most often associated with work documenting the people she encountered in Mexico, in and around the town of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato. For years she spent her summers there, always with a 16 mm camera in hand: among the many portraits she created before her death in 2009 are Anselmo (1967), Woman of a Thousand Fires (1978), Fake Fruit Factory (1986) and Senora con flores (1995/2011). The 1971 film Mosori Monika, which considers the relationship between missionaries and native Waraos in Venezuela, exemplifies Strand’s signature, intimate style: caressing movements and features in close-up, pulling viewers in with a telescoped lens, incorporating the subject’s thoughts via voiceover narration.

 

Reference

Brunner-Sung, Vera. “Sensuous Ethnography.” Sight and Sound; London, Dec. 2015, 53.

Forest of Bliss: Sensory Experience and Ethnographic Film

Forest of Bliss (1986) is a film that explores the ancient Indian city of Benares, focusing on both funeral and religious practices. The viewer comes to know the city through the eyes of ethnographic filmmaker Robert Gardner. He describes it using complex editing that allows this documentary to be included in the subgenre of city symphony. The film is distinguished both by its dense network of visual and aural symbols with which the cycle of death and regeneration is represented and by its ability to communicate the sensory experience of being there.

 

Reference

Bucci, Mauro. “Forest of Bliss: Sensory Experience and Ethnographic Film.” Visual Ethnography, vol. 1, no. 1, Feb. 2015

One Image, Two Stories: Ethnographic and Touristic Photography and the Practice of Craft in Mexico

Although tourists and ethnographers take photos with different intentions and for different uses, the images they produce may be essentially similar. I explore this matter in reference to a photograph I took during research in Oaxaca, Mexico, one that is also commonly taken by tourists who visit the woodcarving workshops there. While this photo is persuasive within touristic discourses that frame Oaxaca as reflecting authentic indigenous culture, the story it tells within my ethnography is more complicated. In discussing the space between these stories, I suggest that photographs of craft practices may in turn reconstitute artisans’ practices themselves.

 

Reference

Cant, Alanna. “One Image, Two Stories: Ethnographic and Touristic Photography and the Practice of Craft in Mexico.” Visual Anthropology, vol. 28, no. 4, Sept. 2015, pp. 277–85.

Breaking Into Transgender Life: Transgender Audiences’ Experiences With ‘First of Its Kind’ Visibility in Popular Media

Drawing from ethnographic fieldwork with transgender individuals and communities, this article explores transgender audiences’ interactions with what I call ‘breakout texts,’ media that portray ‘first of its kind’ representation. I analyze the films Boys Don’t Cry (1999) and TransAmerica (2005) as transgender breakout texts, or media that break into the cultural mainstream, break with historical representational paradigms, and break into the everyday life of viewers. Focusing mainly on this last break, I examine how transgender audiences discern breakout texts through a paradigm of mediatized ‘linked fate’ (Dawson, 1994); how audiences move from ‘cultural readers’ (Bobo, 1988) to cultural interpreters as a result of breakout texts’ cultural popularity; and how audiences engage in ‘queer identity work’ (Gray, 2009) with breakout texts.

 

Reference

Cavalcante, Andre. “Breaking Into Transgender Life: Transgender Audiences’ Experiences With ‘First of Its Kind’ Visibility in Popular Media.” Communication, Culture & Critique, vol. 10, no. 3, Sept. 2017, pp. 538–55.

Applied Visual Anthropology in the Progressive Era: The Influence of Lewis Hine’s Child Labor Photographs

This case study discusses how the interpretive photographer, Lewis W. Hine (1874-1940), and his Child Labor series (1908-1918) during the Progressive Era in America (1890-1920) could be considered a precursor to applied visual anthropology. Identifying his work as interpretive of reformers’ values rather than documented evidence demonstrates one method of photographic ethnography, which drives the approach of applied visual anthropology. This paper analyzes the successes and limitations of Hine’s approach, and will identify examples of his work in order to show how his investigations contributed towards the development of an applied visual anthropological approach.

 

Reference

Cerku, Ashley. “Applied Visual Anthropology in the Progressive Era: The Influence of Lewis Hine’s Child Labor Photographs.” Visual Anthropology, vol. 32, no. 3/4, May 2019, pp. 221–39.

What’s in It for Me?’: Negotiations of Asymmetries, Concerns and Interests between the Researcher and Research Subjects

Pre-interview interactions between qualitative researchers and research subjects are characterized by two-way sense-making processes, through which research subjects attempt to make sense of researchers’ intentions, and what they themselves stand to gain or lose from participating in a given research. Based on a reflexive account of my ethnographic fieldwork experiences in Kenya’s South Coast region, among men known as ‘beach boys’ and as participants of ‘female sex tourism’, I illustrate how the concerns and interests of my target interviewees were generated and negotiated during the pre-interview phase. I do so by analyzing our pre-interview interactions, drawing links between my assigned identities, asymmetries between us and the concerns and interests that were generated, as the men considered their participation or non-participation in the research.

 

Reference

Chege, Njeri. “‘What’s in It for Me?’: Negotiations of Asymmetries, Concerns and Interests between the Researcher and Research Subjects.” Ethnography, vol. 16, no. 4, 2015, pp. 463–81.

WhichWayNC: A Model for Mobile Media Development

This student newsroom ethnography examines the emergent culture and values of a group-created news and information content with a mobile-first focus. Using semi-structured interviews from 12 participants working on a mobile-optimized summer news project, the study provides insights on the work practices of the digital student newsroom. Validated through the use of textual analysis and member checks, these findings offer four key values that are applicable as part of a reflexive pedagogy in student digital media production. This study offers insights that can be scaled for a journalism program of any size.

 

Reference

Clark, Meredith D. “WhichWayNC: A Model for Mobile Media Development.” Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, vol. 70, no. 3, Sept. 2015, pp. 251–63.

Senses of HumaNature on Florida’s Silver River: Evocative Ethnography to Craft Place

The spaces where humans, plants, and animals intermingle are rich junctures of mobility, sensuality, and impressions that together evoke a sense of place. Visual anthropology can help interpret these humaNature events—where dichotomies and divisions are blurred, and lived experiences of multispecies mingling are brought to the fore through emerging practices that apply experiential and experimental devices. Attending to emotional textures of intimacy, soundscapes of multiple species, and embodied, sensuous ways of knowing that do not privilege solely the agency of human actors, nor rely primarily on a linear narrative and didactic logic, the academic-artistic endeavor that I discuss in this article—and demonstrate in its accompanying short video, Senses of Silver River—is aimed at bringing feminist, decolonial ways of knowing the world to the forefront (cf. Collins; Harrison; Trinh). Toward this effort, I propose a methodological intervention that I call evocative ethnography, which favors a sensorial realm to explore, interpret, and share a sense of place.

 

Reference

Concha‐Holmes, Amanda. “Senses of HumaNature on Florida’s Silver River: Evocative Ethnography to Craft Place.” Visual Anthropology Review, vol. 31, no. 1, 2015, pp. 62–72.

Introduction

It is estimated that there are more than 100,000 islands in the world. The study of these islands is found predominantly within the sciences and social sciences- in disciplines such as Geography, Geology, Zoology, Ethnography, Anthropology, Sociology, Politics and International Relations-and with often a focus on regions such as the Pacific, Southeast Asia, or the Caribbean. With so much of the world’s populations found on islands-from Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines and Hong Kong to Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Ireland and the United Kingdom-it is unsurprising that cinema has repeatedly turned to island life as a subject. Yet, film studies has largely ignored the geographical, spatial, and cultural significance of the many island-set movies. This special issue of Post Script focuses on the theme of ‘Islands and Film’ and moves beyond the studies of national cinemas that have been dominating the understandings of regional film representations.

 

Reference

Conrich, Ian, et al. “Introduction.” Post Script; Commerce, vol. 37, no. 2/3, Winter-Summer 2018, pp. 3-4, I.

Interview with Rick Prelinger

Rick Prelinger wears many hats: he is an archivist and an activist, a writer and a filmmaker; he has preserved the eccentricities and banalities of American cultural heritage and projected them back to the world via both Open Access digital repositories and carefully curated programs of ephemeral and orphaned films. He is perhaps best known as the founder of the Prelinger Archives, a collection of about 60,000 industrial, advertising, educational, and amateur films, which encourage and facilitate not only preservation, but appropriation by allowing free access, downloading and reuse of its materials.

 

Reference

Cook, Sophie, et al. “Interview with Rick Prelinger.” Synoptique, vol. 4, no. 1, 2015, p. 27.

American Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary: The Cambridge Turn/Avant-Doc: Intersections of Documentary & Avant-Garde Cinema

While he acknowledges that documentary and avant-garde have co-existed in cinema from the start (from Eadweard Muybridge’s and Étienne-Jules Marey’s protocinematic visual studies of animal motion to city symphonies to visual experimentations by Joris Ivens and many others), he champions the development of lightweight cameras and portable audio equipment in the 1950s as an opportunity for both cinéma-vérité innovation and the expansion of avant-garde movements.

 

Reference

Cummings, Doug. “American Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary: The Cambridge Turn/Avant-Doc: Intersections of Documentary & Avant-Garde Cinema.” The Spectator; Los Angeles, Fall 2016

Decolonizing Projects: Creating Pluriversal Possibilities in Rhetoric

The article discusses the highlights of the Rhetoric Society of America Summer Institute. Among the topics discussed at the meeting related to rhetoric of Indigenous peoples were professor of Civic Sustainability and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Ellen Cushman’s lead symposium on role of rhetoricians in decolonizing digital archives; cultural problems such as white racism; and assumptions of ethnography as a method for extracting data.

 

Reference

Cushman, Ellen, et al. “Decolonizing Projects: Creating Pluriversal Possibilities in Rhetoric.” Rhetoric Review, vol. 38, no. 1, Jan. 2019, pp. 1–22.

Sensory Autoethnography: Engaging the Senses, Emotions and Autobiographical Narrative towards a Transformative Pedagogical Practice in Higher Education

By combining the sensorial and narrative ways of knowing, I consider sensory embodied experiences and autobiographical narrative as a means of producing ‘academic knowledge’, as described in Sarah Pink’s Doing Sensory Ethnography (2015). Sensory embodied experiences and autobiographical narrative not only expose us to the life of the researcher, but also to a culture and to those being researched and how they are making and remaking meaning. In this article, I explore my use of a reflexive approach and my autobiographical narrative to tell the story of my experiences of Caribbean diaspora festive culture and tradition in the United Kingdom. I consider my sensory embodied experiences in both culture and academia, seeking to discover the making of self in culture and academia.

 

Reference

de Matas, Réa. “Sensory Autoethnography: Engaging the Senses, Emotions and Autobiographical Narrative towards a Transformative Pedagogical Practice in Higher Education.” Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, vol. 12, no. 1/2, Apr. 2019, pp. 167–80.

BarkTV: Portrait of an Innovator

Jean-Luc Nancy describes the portrait as ‘first and foremost an encounter’, though in fact, as Nancy clearly appreciates, the art of portraiture puts multiple encounters into play. The most obvious is that between the viewer and the subject of the artwork, an experience often charged with an unnerving immediacy. Yet all portraits await viewers already imprinted with the echo of encounter. More than most, this is an art form that calls attention to the relationship between artist and subject: two people united in a shared project of portrayal.

 

Reference

Deger, Jennifer. “BarkTV: Portrait of an Innovator.” Imaging Identity, edited by MELINDA HINKSON, ANU Press, 2016, pp. 117–40.

More than Corpses, Less than Ghosts: A Visual Theory of Culture in Early Ethnographic Photography

In its intent to make “culture” visible through the objective depiction of specific scenes of indigenous life, ethnographic photography at the turn of the twentieth century could be understood against two other scientific uses of the camera at that time: the anatomic photographs of physical anthropologists, on the one hand, and the ghost photographs of spiritualist circles, on the other. Indeed, while capturing “culture” involved having more than still bodies appear on the picture, which implied elaborate apparatuses meant to make it happen in front of the camera lens, early ethnographers were anxious not to let too much appear either, as “culture” was supposed to manifest itself more subtly than the ghosts revealed through spirit photography. This article thus argues that photographing “culture” at the turn of the twentieth century meant getting its invisibility right; it describes some of the devices and operations early ethnographers used to make it appear objectively.

 

Reference

Delaplace, Gregory. “More than Corpses, Less than Ghosts: A Visual Theory of Culture in Early Ethnographic Photography.” Visual Anthropology Review, vol. 35, no. 1, 2019, pp. 37–49.

Minecraft and Children’s Digital Making: Implications for Media Literacy Education

This article aims to contribute new knowledge about the media literacies children assemble as they play the digital game Minecraft which it describes as a children’s digital making platform. The article argues media literacy’s tendency to use socio-cultural and humanist accounts of media participation limit its ability to fully explain digital making practices. Socio-material and performative literacy theories are used to introduce a framework for exploring digital media literacies across four nodes: digital materials, media production, conceptual understanding and media analysis. The article’s second half outlines how the author uses digital ethnography in his home to understand children’s Minecraft digital making and the article’s theoretical claims are explored using empirical data. The conclusion considers the ramifications of digital making for media literacy research and practice.

 

Reference

Dezuanni, Michael. “Minecraft and Children’s Digital Making: Implications for Media Literacy Education.” Learning, Media & Technology, vol. 43, no. 3, Sept. 2018, pp. 236–49.

Conclusions

Why Where Who What and When are the five Ws that have guided my work in places of war and, yet, the ways in which these Ws intersect with one another has often come to me in retrospect: how to articulate my intention, how to use that intention to frame my positioning and my site of intervention, how to move from that choice of site toward exploring the dynamics of the victim/perpetrator/grey zone continuum in identifying co-creators and spectators, how to extrapolate from my spectators’ and co-creators’ demography in order to investigate the place for novelty in my aesthetic choices.

 

Reference

Dinesh, Nandita. “Conclusions.” Theatre and War, 1st ed., Open Book Publishers, 2016, pp. 167–88.

Do We Even Need to Define Ethnographic Film?

Before this year I never felt the need to come up with a clear definition for what counts as an “ethnographic film.” Constructing better pigeonholes only seems to be of use to the gatekeepers who get to decide which films count and which do not. I still think that’s true, but this year I became one of those gatekeepers! As programmer for the 2017 Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival I suddenly found myself needing to articulate some kind of working definition that could be communicated to filmmakers, distributors, festival judges, etc. so that everyone understood what did or did not count as an “ethnographic film” for the purpose of this festival. I failed.

 

Reference

Do We Even Need to Define Ethnographic Film? | Savage Minds. /2017/07/20/do-we-even-need-to-define-ethnographic-film/.

New Directors/New Films 2019 Critic’s Notebook: The Chambermaid, Midnight Family, Honeyland

Labor was a theme binding many selections at this year’s New Directors/New Films, which concluded this past weekend at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art. That feels timely, in the wake of the success enjoyed and debates sparked by Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, about a loyal mestiza housekeeper and nanny caring for a well-off Mexico City family, and the high-profile arrival in the U.S. House of Representatives of progressive firebrand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a proud former waitress whose working class roots have rattled the Fox News crowd. Not that world cinema attends to trending topics, but surely film curators do, and for American audiences right now such films can provoke something more meaningful than the pro-wrestling-level tirades that pass for social discourse in the national news media.

 

Reference

Dollar, Steve. “New Directors/New Films 2019 Critic’s Notebook: The Chambermaid, Midnight Family, Honeyland.” Filmmaker Magazine, https://filmmakermagazine.com/107357-new-directors-new-films-2019-critics-notebook-the-chambermaid-midnight-family-honeyland/.

Decolonizing Family Photographs: Ecological Imaginaries and Nonrepresentational Ethnographies

This article lays out my process of developing an ecological and nonrepresentational approach for conducting an ethnography of family photos as objects of investigation, practices, and sites for the making and remaking of decolonizing stories and histories. It is rooted in a three-part project on family photographs: first, an ongoing project with a three-generation Indigenous family who has a history with Canada’s residential school system; second, revisiting my own family photo albums that include photos of missionary nuns in my family who had worked in Indigenous schools and communities in the 1950s–60s; and third, the development of a politico-ethico-onto-epistemological approach for viewing and analyzing family photos and narratives from and about photographs. The article focuses on the latter two parts of this project. Informed by my reading of Lorraine Code’s “ecological thinking” approach to knowledge making, I bring Code into conversation with Phillip Vannini’s “nonrepresentational ethnographies” combined with new materialist writing on performativity and vitality; selected Indigenous scholars’ writing on ontological multiplicity, knowledge making as relationship, and the making of life worlds; Margaret Somers’s approach to nonrepresentational narratives and ontological narrativity; and Annette Kuhn’s work on analyzing family photographs and cultural memory. I demonstrate this approach through the analysis of one of my family photos. I also reflect on the ethical challenges of attempting to analyze a different kind of family photo, such as photos of residential schooling that are increasingly on display in media, online, and in public venues. I argue for the need to address representational issues of social injustice in nonrepresentational approaches and a recognition that there are sites and times—especially in cases of human rights abuses, violence, or trauma—when nonrepresentational ethnographies and narratives call for strategic negotiation with representation.

 

Reference

Doucet, A., & Van Den Scott, L. (2018). Decolonizing Family Photographs: Ecological Imaginaries and Nonrepresentational Ethnographies. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 47(6), 729-757.

Drawing-Writing Culture: The Truth-Fiction Spectrum of an Ethno-Graphic Novel on the Sri Lankan Civil War and Migration

With our focus on an “ethno-graphic novel” on the Sri Lankan civil war and the forcible displacement and migration of Tamil survivors, we make two main propositions while reflecting on the “graphic narrative turn” that has emerged in anthropology in recent years. First, we inscribe drawing into the “writing of cultures” where words have held a superior status in ethnographic representations. Rather than seeing drawings as perceptive tools for recording scenes in fieldwork alone, we extend them to a representational practice where they can have a deep, intricate, and equivalent entanglement with words to create synchronous affective intensities among a larger audience. Our second proposal follows Jean Rouch on cinéma vérité to interrogate assumptions about truth and fiction as portrayed by film representations. We propose a theory and practice for graphic novel production that we have termed vérités graphiques (literally, graphic realities). This describes the collaborative and interactive engagement with people’s contributions and views, and their distillation and fictionalization through the ethno-graphic form. We diverge from cinéma vérité, however, by highlighting a truth-fiction spectrum that further challenges the presumed objectivity of what is seen, experienced, co-created, and revealed.

 

Reference

Dix, Benjamin, and Raminder Kaur. “Drawing-Writing Culture: The Truth-Fiction Spectrum of an Ethno-Graphic Novel on the Sri Lankan Civil War and Migration.” Visual Anthropology Review, vol. 35, no. 1, 2019, pp. 76–111.

Tactile Places: Doing Sensory Ethnography in Sydney’s Drag King Scene

Going to drag king performances – a subcultural phenomenon where women consciously perform masculinity – has proved a popular pastime in Sydney, Australia. Established within a broader tradition of live performance culture, and part of wider urban night-time economies catering to lesbian patronage, these shows provided a highly visible spectacle that drew women to a series of events between 2002 and 2012. Sydney’s drag king scene offered women the potential for the shared pleasures of the performances, as well as the justification for mid-week nights out with friends, lovers and fellow fans. Exploring the connections between everyday forms of participation and the collective investments that establish these drag king events as intelligible social phenomenon inevitably leads to an engagement with space. By turning attention to the sensory economy circulating within scene participation, and the ethnographic research that followed it, this article explores how scene practices turn the sociality of the moment into an attachment to the venues that supported them. Contrary to the ephemerality that is thought to characterize minority cultures, I argue that forms of social engagement based on the tactility of their encounters inscribe spaces of the scene. In doing so, this article draws attention to the role the senses play – those sights, smells and sounds for participants and researchers alike – in the design and practice of cultural research.

 

Reference

Drysdale, Kerryn. “Tactile Places: Doing Sensory Ethnography in Sydney’s Drag King Scene.” Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, vol. 30, no. 2, Apr. 2016, pp. 206–17.

Popular Sovereignty on the Border: Nativist Activism among Two Border Watch Groups in Southern Arizona

By drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with two grassroots groups that operate near the Arizona-Mexico border, this article illuminates how nativism is translated into day-to-day activism, often in ways that, while openly critical of the state, actually serve to strengthen the state. In contrast to conventional accounts that characterize nativist groups on the border as ‘vigilante’, I argue that the two groups which are the focus of this study, the Soldiers and the Engineers, seek to collaborate with state actors in an effort to restore the state’s exercise of what these groups consider to be legitimate violence in the borderlands. That is, the two groups enact nativism through popular sovereignty believing that the state’s ‘absence’ on the border is the result of an understaffed Border Patrol, the Soldiers fashion themselves into a civilian extension of the agency, taking pride in collaborating with locally stationed agents. Meanwhile, the Engineers find their entry point to the state through the ‘border security industrial complex’, hoping to work as private contractors for the Department of Homeland Security to restructure border surveillance. I conclude that we might expect popular sovereignty in other contexts where the state is perceived to be weak.

 

Reference

Elcioglu, Emine F. “Popular Sovereignty on the Border: Nativist Activism among Two Border Watch Groups in Southern Arizona.” Ethnography, vol. 16, no. 4, 2015, pp. 438–62.

Methodology

Two research traditions inform the methodology of this study: discourse analysis inspired by Foucault, and internet studies. This section outlines the contribution of each. I explain how I apply those Foucauldian principles of discourse as active, constructive, formative language and practices to the context of online fanfiction, informed by earlier Foucauldian studies of text and network analyses online. I note particularly a lack of methodical attention to the reception of statements in discourse, crucial to the hierarchization and regulation of fanfic, which this project addresses. Finally, I explain the ethical protocols of the project.

 

Reference

Fathallah, Judith May. “Methodology.” Fanfiction and the Author, Amsterdam University Press, 2017, pp. 33–46.

Power/Freedom on the Dark Web: A Digital Ethnography of the Dark Web Social Network

This essay is an early ethnographic exploration of the Dark Web Social Network (DWSN), a social networking site only accessible to Web browsers equipped with The Onion Router. The central claim of this essay is that the DWSN is an experiment in power/freedom, an attempt to simultaneously trace, deploy, and overcome the historical conditions in which it finds itself: the generic constraints and affordances of social networking as they have been developed over the past decade by Facebook and Twitter, and the ideological constraints and affordances of public perceptions of the dark web, which hold that the dark web is useful for both taboo activities and freedom from state oppression. I trace the DWSN’s experiment with power/freedom through three practices: anonymous/social networking, the banning of child pornography, and the productive aspects of techno-elitism. I then use these practices to specify particular forms of power/freedom on the DWSN.

 

Reference

Gehl, Robert W. “Power/Freedom on the Dark Web: A Digital Ethnography of the Dark Web Social Network.” New Media & Society, vol. 18, no. 7, Aug. 2016, pp. 1219–35

Digital Object Lessons and Their Precursors

The fundamental argument of this book is that we need to pay attention to the specific contexts, as well as materialities, of digital objects and that digital media in museums exist in a long-standing continuum or process of mediation, technological mimesis and objectification. In an exchange of comment in the journal Science, Franz Boas argued with his colleague O.T. Mason about the purpose and nature of museum collections. The debate emerged from the growing museological tension between the spectacular nature of individual objects and their contextualisation within academic and scientific knowledge systems.

 

Reference

Geismar, Haidy. “Digital Object Lessons and Their Precursors.” Museum Object Lessons for the Digital Age, UCL Press, 2018, pp. 11–27

Science, Ethnography, Art

The conference “A Home for Science’ from which this special issue originated, and the larger project of which the conference was part, sought to combine anthropological and historical studies of science, and contemporary artists’ engagements with scientific practice, to jointly interrogate scientific work in marginal places (Geissler et al., 2016). Collaborations between ethnography and conceptual art have evolved in recent decades, drawing on older convergences between anthropology and art practice (Gell, 1998).

 

Reference

Geissler, P Wenzel, Kelly, Ann H, & Sismondo, Sergio. (2016). Science, Ethnography, Art. Social Studies of Science, 46(6), 961-981.

Censorship and Ethnographic Film: Confronting State Bureaucracies, Cultural Regulation, and Institutionalized Homophobia in India

Based on my encounters with the Indian censor board while trying to get my films approved for broadcast on Indian television, I explore how bureaucratic institutions such as the Indian Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) operate as instruments of the nation-state to control speech, regulate culture, and stifle dissent in the interest of advancing the Indian government’s nationalist, paternalist, heteronormative agendas and policies. I also look briefly at how nongovernmental actors like special interest religious and political groups attempt to regulate even the transnational domains of media circulation online, which offer some possibilities for transcending the regulatory mechanisms of the nation-state. Citing my experiences to show how ethnographic films and scholarship are continuously shaped by the various mediascapes within which they circulate, this article opens up a conversation about what it means to submit our scholarship for sanctioning by the nation-state in which we carry out our research.

 

Reference

Gill, Harjant S. “Censorship and Ethnographic Film: Confronting State Bureaucracies, Cultural Regulation, and Institutionalized Homophobia in India.” Visual Anthropology Review, vol. 33, no. 1, 2017, pp. 62–73.

Decolonizing Documentary On-Screen and Off: Sensory Ethnography and the Aesthetics of Accountability

The article discusses the work of the Sensory Ethnography Lab (SEL), a joint venture between the Visual and Environmental Studies and Anthropology departments at Harvard University. According to the author, SEL projects embraced the spirit and practice of collaboration on all aspects of filmmaking. Documentary films including ”Sweetgrass” (2009) by Lucien Castaing-Taylor; ”Leviathan” (2012) by Véréna Paravel and J .P. Sniadecki, and ”Manakamana”(2013), by Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez are discussed.

 

Reference

Ginsburg, Faye. “Decolonizing Documentary On-Screen and Off: Sensory Ethnography and the Aesthetics of Accountability.” Film Quarterly, vol. 72, no. 1, Sept. 2018, pp. 39–49.

Documenting Religious Responses to 3.11 on Film

This research note discusses the challenges of post-disaster filmmaking and introduces two short films about religious responses to the 11 March 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster in Japan that were produced to accompany this special issue. The first clip presents perspectives on the cherry blossom festival at Jōnenji, a Pure Land Buddhist temple that functioned as an evacuation center in the tsunami-stricken city of Kesennuma. Volunteers started the festival in 2012, and it has since grown into a major annual event that, besides commemorating the tragic events of 3.11, provides an important opportunity for recreation. The second vignette examines the training of rinshō shūkyōshi, literally “clinical religious specialists,” or “interfaith chaplains,” at Tohoku University in Sendai. As the video shows, this program, which comprises a distinctive collaboration of religious and nonreligious aid providers, has contributed to a shifting image of religion in Japan’s public sphere. Instructors and students may find the audiovisual component useful in discussing different intersections of religion and relief in contemporary Japan and as a means of exploring practical and theoretical dimensions of religious responses to disaster. The vignettes can be streamed or downloaded for free from Vimeo. Vignette One (Jōnenji): https://vimeo.com/141396760 and Vignette Two (Interfaith Chaplains): https://vimeo.com/141380269.

 

Reference

Graf, Tim. “Documenting Religious Responses to 3.11 on Film.” Asian Ethnology, vol. 75, no. 1, 2016, pp. 203–19. [Video Clips]

The Essential I/Eye in We: A Black TransFeminist Approach to Ethnographic Film

This essay is a criti­cal and creative meditation on the process of making my ethnographic film It Gets Messy in Here (2011), a thirty-two minute short documentary that examines the experiences of Black and Asian Ameri­can transgender men and masculine of center queer women in public bathrooms. This essay explicates a Trans* and TransFeminist approach to filmmaking, a transformative film praxis that has the ability to move people to a higher level of self-consciousness about their place in the world and the systems that produce that place. This essay explores an inter-subjective and self-­reflexive approach to scholarship in hopes that it might produce new knowledge about and for the communities being studied, but also new epistemological platforms for that very knowledge.

 

Reference

Green, Kai M. “The Essential I/Eye in We: A Black TransFeminist Approach to Ethnographic Film.” Black Camera, vol. 6, no. 2, 2015, p. 187.

Beyond the Boundaries of Language

In recent memory, there’s been a never-ending deluge of bad news for the arts and humanities in the U.S.: government support, which is already low, may be cut entirely; universities, facing budget crises, have axed language and arts programs; prominent professors spend their time writing books defending the basic value of humanistic inquiry, while their pecuniary graduate students fight for poverty wages as adjuncts, and earn a little money on the side writing articles about their plight.

 

Reference

Grimaldi, Carmine. “Beyond the Boundaries of Language.” Filmmaker Magazine, https://filmmakermagazine.com/102727-beyond-the-boundaries-of-language/.

The Ax Fight: A Critical Engagement with the Work of Tim Asch and John Marshall

Although The Ax Fight is one of the most discussed films in the history of ethnographic cinema, we argue that commentators have overlooked certain key aspects of the film. Critical engagement with Asch’s techniques and how they work to shape a particular interpretation of the Yanomamo is crucial to understanding the kind of anthropological work that ethnographic film does and can do. Offered as an exercise in close reading, this essay is intended, first, to highlight the kinds of analytical skills necessary in taking film seriously as a medium of scholarly inquiry. Second, by juxtaposing The Ax Fight and associated Yanomami shorts with the work of his contemporary John Marshall, we extend our evaluation of Asch by challenging assumed continuities between the two filmmakers. We suggest that a careful examination of the complex web of overlap and distinction in their respective practice allows for a more nuanced understanding of technique, knowledge, and reflexivity in anthropological work.

 

Reference

Grimshaw, Anna, and Sydney M. Silverstein. “The Ax Fight: A Critical Engagement with the Work of Tim Asch and John Marshall.” Visual Anthropology Review, vol. 34, no. 2, 2018, pp. 113–23.

Material and Sensory Dimensions of Everyday News Use

This article seeks to capture material and sensory dimensions of everyday news use that usually remain unexplored. To that end, we developed a two-sided-ethnography, filming people while they use news, allowing both researchers and participants to look in and reflect on their news use. Tapping into news users’ embodied, tacit knowledge, we found that the materiality of devices and platforms and the ways users physically handle and navigate them impact how they engage with news, in ways they themselves had not realized. We also deepened our understanding of previously found news user practices, and identified the distinct practice scrolling, which is characterized by an embodied urge to keep up the movement of the hand, even when the user finds content appealing. Finally, we show how people actively ‘make’ place and time through their news practices, using coping strategies that mediate between the comfortability of ritual news use and the disruptiveness of news content. We conclude by discussing the theoretical, methodological, and epistemological implications of our research, which include a call for a more in-situ, real-time, and non-news-centric approach to studying everyday news use.

 

Reference

Groot Kormelink, Tim, and Irene Costera Meijer. “Material and Sensory Dimensions of Everyday News Use.” Media, Culture & Society, vol. 41, no. 5, July 2019, pp. 637–53.

Performing Visual Empowerment: Norwegian Youth Culture, Languages, and Cross-Sense Communication

This article highlights how deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing people in Norway have an ability for visual languaging, building new relations, making new social order, handling the pressure of phonocentricity, establishing a peer group, and performing their visual identity in multiple ways. In a cross-field analysis of linguistics, medicine and anthropology, we explore how young people succeed in bridging the gap between users of spoken and of signed languages. By multiple video layered recordings as part of the ethnography, we display the complexities in their languaging. Our findings point to their broad use of different knowledge fields which are established from an early age.

 

Reference

Halvorsen, Rolf Piene, et al. “Performing Visual Empowerment: Norwegian Youth Culture, Languages, and Cross-Sense Communication.” Visual Anthropology, vol. 32, no. 2, Apr. 2019, pp. 145–73.

A Collaborative Methodology between Photography and Performance in Ethnographically Informed Research

This article starts from the discussions in Writing culture that provided a new perspective on ethnographic writing. The author acknowledges that there has been a proliferation of ‘sensory’ approaches in the social sciences and ethnography, and ‘ethnographic’ projects in the arts. The article explores some of the critiques that both perspectives (art and ethnography) received because of the blurred distinction between their respective methodologies and the privileging of experience over interpretation in their claims to ‘truth’. The author engages in this discussion by reconsidering the relationship between photography and ‘reality’ and repositions the role of the photographer-researcher as co-creator of ethnographic knowledge. By focusing on the study of a Danish micro-community in Argentina, she explores the possibilities and challenges of performative photography as a (collaborative) ethnographic methodology. The author discusses the critical and experimental possibilities of a performative photographic approach in ethnographically informed research, and reflects on a collaborative project that involved staged photography and dance.

 

Reference

Hamer, Carla. “A Collaborative Methodology between Photography and Performance in Ethnographically Informed Research.” Critical Arts: A South-North Journal of Cultural & Media Studies, vol. 30, no. 3, June 2016, pp. 341–56.

Teacher-Student Relationships and L2 Motivation

Positive relationships with teachers are important for students’ second language motivation. However, little is known about how interpersonal interactions stimulate motivated behavior. Drawing on studies of teacher–student relationships, theories from positive psychology, and the psychology of unconscious self-regulation, this case study examines moments of teacher–student interaction and explores influences on students’ engagement and motivation. Observations were carried out in 2 classrooms, and interviews with the focal teacher of this study and her students were conducted. Data were analyzed using a grounded theory ethnography approach. Findings indicate that moments of close personal contact and their influences may differ in emerging and mature teacher–student relationships. While in emerging relationships moments of contact can have immediate influences on engagement and motivation, in mature relationships influences on learning behavior may be less pronounced and involve unconscious motivational processes. The study’s methodological limitations are discussed and proposals are made for future ethnographic and experimental work.

 

Reference

Henery, Alastair, and Cecilia Thorsen. “Teacher-Student Relationships and L2 Motivation.” Modern Language Journal, vol. 102, no. 1, 2018 Spring 2018, pp. 218–41.

Sustaining and revitalizing traditional Indigenous ways of speaking: An ethnography-of-speaking approach

This article makes a case for greater attention to traditional ways of speaking in Indigenous language maintenance and revitalization initiatives. It contends that traditional Indigenous communicative practices are overshadowed in many language revitalization programs by Euro-Western language ideologies and communicative norms that pervade language instruction. Through examples of speech by Lakota people, this article shows how the ethnography of speaking can usefully illuminate traditional Indigenous ways of speaking. It is posited that this “ethnography-of-speaking turn” promises to stimulate approaches to language revitalization that are more consistent with sustaining and revitalizing Indigenous cultures.

 

Reference

Henne-Ochoa, R. (2018). Sustaining and revitalizing traditional Indigenous ways of speaking: An ethnography-of-speaking approach. Language & Communication, 62, 66-82.

Ethnography and Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Laboratory

The film Manakamana takes us on a journey to the Manakamana temple in Nepal and we begin in near darkness, in a mood of anticipation. We hear the clanking of machinery echoing against the walls of a building we are in, but cannot see. With continued mechanical noise, and sounds that signify movement, we realize that we are in a cable car moving out into bright sunlight, dipping slightly for a moment as the weight of the car drops on the cable, beginning a ten-minute journey up the mountain to the temple. We sit opposite an elderly Nepali man and a small boy, who do not look at us, and seem uncertain. They glance around, but their interactions are unspoken, even with each other. They can turn to look around, but we cannot. We have a fixed viewpoint. We face them for ten minutes as the undulating green of the Nepali landscape passes below and in front of us. We travel upwards, our carriage dipping on the cable lines, and occasionally bumping and creaking as the cable passes over a support tower. The forest and sounds of birds seem so close, and so clear. Our fellow passengers remain fascinating, yet unknowable except as fellow humans who we are held together with in this enclosed movement to a common destination.

 

Reference

Hepburn, S. (2016). Ethnography and Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Laboratory. The Senses and Society, 11(2), 232-236.

Camera Documents Made at Home: Visual Culture and the Question of America

This essay considers three films made in the 1950s that used ethnographic images to educate audiences about contemporary American cultural life. The use of images in these films conveyed the idea that American culture was uniquely suited to change. Americans’ apparent facility with the image suggested that American culture was at once under ascendance and in question. The films borrow images and practices from the ethnographic field to reveal one pathway for a process of visual enculturation that was characteristic of the postwar United States in which modernity and visual culture coexisted and encouraged mediated self-observation.

 

Reference

Hillyer, Minette. “Camera Documents Made at Home: Visual Culture and the Question of America.” Film History, vol. 27, no. 4, 2015, pp. 46–75.

Blackboxing Whiteness’: A Study of the Networked Home in Middle-Class South Africa

This paper examines the home as networked and relational. These arrangements of space and place were investigated through a digital ethnography and critical discourse analysis of domestically focused posts by 50 Facebook users. This data was supplemented by interviews, and in-situ observations drawn from the broader sample. Facebook has opened up the private space of the home, allowing domestic space, place, and practice to gain visibility, which, when analysed in conjunction with Actor-Network Theory (ANT), illustrates the networked and relational quality of the home. The home, and the relationships between actants, reflects discourses and hierarchy. Women remain tightly bound to the home, and to postfeminist discourses of domesticity and domestopia. This paper reveals that whiteness, and in particular madamhood, is blackboxed within middle-class homes. Domestic workers employed by these households, on the other hand, were largely absent from such narratives and conversations, and were marginalised within networks.

 

Reference

Hiltermann, Jaqui. “‘Blackboxing Whiteness’: A Study of the Networked Home in Middle-Class South Africa.” Communicare, vol. 37, no. 2, Dec. 2018, pp. 107–26.

The Tree of Life as a Metaphor for Grief in AIDS-Orphaned Adolescents

This article reports on research into using the Tree of Life metaphor as creative expressive arts in therapy to convey the grief stories of adolescent AIDS orphans. The study applied a qualitative arts-based research method for data collection. Employing a critical ethnographic design afforded attention to the study’s 16 adolescent participants’ cultural context and how this context influenced participants’ sharing of their grief experiences. Discourse analysis was used as a data analysis method. Sharing images from the process along with research findings, the authors discuss how the group of adolescents utilized the Tree of Life metaphor through creative expressive arts to embody and express their experiences of grief. The authors further describe what they learned about the embodiment and expression of grief in light of adolescents’ neurobiological functioning and psychological well-being.

 

Reference

Hirschson, Shalya, et al. “The Tree of Life as a Metaphor for Grief in AIDS-Orphaned Adolescents.” American Journal of Dance Therapy; New York, vol. 40, no. 1, June 2018, pp. 87–109.

Discretions

Most ethnological research trips ended quite literally at the knowledge of the gods. Not only those of writers like Leiris and Artaud, but also the anthropological journeys of Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead to Bali and that of Maya Deren to Haiti. Film footage of rites and rituals was supposed be made at a distance, in the field. Nevertheless, an unexpected interference of cultural effects appears between the ones filming and the objects of their anthropological investigations.

 

Reference

Holl, Ute. “Discretions.” Cinema, Trance and Cybernetics, Amsterdam University Press, 2017, pp. 57–76.

Exercise Musk-OX: The Challenges of Filming a Military Expedition in Canada’s Arctic

Canada’s Arctic has always attracted explorers to its vast expanses to stake claims or to study its natural resources and its people. Motion picture film has played an important role in documenting those who have ventured to frozen lands to explore Northern regions. In films shot by either amateur or professional filmmakers, the common theme is often one of survival. This paper explores the journey of members of the British-Canadian Arctic Expedition (1936–40), and Exercise Musk-Ox (1946), who under very challenging conditions braved the elements, along with their motion picture cameras, just as many explorers who came before and after them.

 

Reference

Holloway, Caroline Forcier. “EXERCISE MUSK-OX:: THE CHALLENGES OF FILMING A MILITARY EXPEDITION IN CANADA’S ARCTIC.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 245–54.

Black Logics, Black Methods: Indigenous Timelines, Race, and Ethnography

The article recovers two pathways emergent from an assets-based approach to the study of black life using qualitative methods generally and ethnography, specifically, (1) racial recalibration and (2) black time. Arguing that our conventional timelines for black histories and contemporary realities tend to calibrate against white notions of time and history, this article reveals a persistent, specious practice in the study of black lifeworlds. Extending from assertions of the theoretical and analytic power of everyday black wisdom, and Stuart Hall’s emphasis on storytelling and the popular imagination, this article demonstrates how black perspectives, measured and apprehended using race conscious and assets-based frames, generate and innovate questions providing new ways to revisit long-debated issues in the field.

 

Reference

Hunter, M., Hancock, B., & Morrison, D. (2018). Black Logics, Black Methods: Indigenous Timelines, Race, and Ethnography. Sociological Perspectives, 61(2), 207-221.

How It Happened

Camera and filmmaker are invited into group therapy sessions in which soldiers recount, at length, the traumas they have experienced; we then look on as the same men try to adjust to normal lives that may never feel normal again. Thanks to Sniadecki’s snaking camera and Ernst Karel’s predictably ace sound design (the film begins with several minutes of avant-jazzlike rail screeching over a black screen), it’s a worthy addition to the Sensory Ethnography Lab’s deepening hard-rock catalog.

 

Reference

Hynes, Eric. “How It Happened.” Film Comment; New York, vol. 52, no. 1, Feb. 2016, pp. 20–21.

The Tour: A Film About Longyearbyen, Svalbard. An Interview with Eva La Cour

The Tour is a video montage produced as part of a thesis on Media and Visual Anthropology at the Freie Universität in Berlin, based on fieldwork in Longyearbyen on Svalbard in 2011 – a Norwegian archipelago in the High Arctic. Here I focused on a set of research questions around the relationship between lived and projected realities on Svalbard, which I sought to explore among a group of taxi drivers and by working as a taxi driver myself.

 

Reference

Ihle, Johanne Haaber. “The Tour: A Film About Longyearbyen, Svalbard. An Interview with Eva La Cour.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 255–60.

Sensuous Ethnography: A Visual Dialogue with Iranian Transmigrants

Focusing on the growing trend of skilled emigration in Iran, which is often examined using a conventional textual discourse, I aim to develop a model that is multilingual and interdisciplinary to create a context that allows a deeper understanding of the sensorial implications of the notion of “transmigration.” This visual ethnographic research is thus conducted through implementation of visual multi-narrative perspectives produced in collaboration with Iranian transmigrants.

 

Reference

Javdani, Sadaf. “Sensuous Ethnography: A Visual Dialogue with Iranian Transmigrants.” Visual Anthropology, vol. 29, no. 4/5, July 2016, pp. 432–50

5 Controversial Documentaries That Blurred the Line Between Fact and Fiction

One of the most well-known documentaries of all time, Robert Flaherty’s 1922 ethnography took viewers up to northern Quebec to experience the life of a fur trader named Nanook and his family in the inhospitable frozen wastes. The film was a tremendous success and it inspired a wave of imitators.

 

Reference

Jensen, K. Thor. “5 Controversial Documentaries That Blurred the Line Between Fact and Fiction.” IFC, //www.ifc.com/shows/documentary-now/blog/2015/09/5-documentaries-that-turned-out-to-be-bullshit.

A Gentle Gaze On The Colony: Jette Bang’s Documentary Filming In Greenland 1938–9

Among a memorable series of Arctic explorers, scientists and adventurers during the past centuries, few women stand out. One exception is Jette Bang (1914–64), who produced photographic and filmic documentation of Greenland from 1937 onwards. Her extraordinary number of high-quality photographs, now available in a vast digital archive, had a profound influence upon Danish and Greenlandic perceptions of life in Greenland during and after World War II. Her early films, in contrast, were widely neglected and have only recently been made available. In particular the film material she recorded in 1938–9 in West Greenland demands further attention.

 

Reference

Jørgensen, Anne Mette. “A Gentle Gaze On The Colony: Jette Bang’s Documentary Filming In Greenland 1938–9.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 235–44.

Northern Exposures and Marginal Critiques: the Politics of Sovereignty in Sámi Cinema

In 2012, the Finnish Film Foundation (FFF) established a funding initiative devoted to developing Sámi film production, a move marking a significant development acknowledging the marginal status of Sámi cinema within the Nordic countries. While the fund is part of the FFF’s focus on developing marginal film production practices and themes, and thus not a long-term charity case, its introduction is indicative of a range of key considerations. First, Sámi cinema has received increased attention in the Nordic countries in the 2000s as both a filmmaking practice and a topic of representation.

 

Reference

Kääpä, Pietari. “Northern Exposures and Marginal Critiques: the Politics of Sovereignty in Sámi Cinema.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 45–58.

Introduction to Special Issue: The Transdisciplinary Travels of Ethnography

The theme for this special issue, which examines the transdisciplinary travels of ethnography at the intersections of anthropology, ethnography, cultural studies, performance studies, sport and physical culture studies, as well as theology, emerged from a roundtable panel co-convened by Magdalena Kazubowski-Houston and Virginie Magnat at the Canadian Association for Theatre Research (CATR) Annual Conference held at Brock University in 2014. This discussion became the basis for their co-authored presentation titled “Transdisciplinary Travels of Ethnography: Potentials and Perils” for the 2015 International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry hosted by the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. This special issue of Cultural Studies – Critical Methodologies offers a unique opportunity to enter into a cross-disciplinary dialogue by opening this discussion to an international community of qualitative researchers whose work engages with ethnography.

 

Reference

Kazubowski-Houston, M., & Magnat, V. (2018). Introduction to Special Issue: The Transdisciplinary Travels of Ethnography. Cultural Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies, 18(6), 379-391.

The Four Dimensions of Ethnographic Films

In my last post I argued that rather than choosing between overly narrow “closed” or overly broad “open” definitions of ethnographic film, it would be better to follow Uberto Eco’s model of listing a “family of resemblances.” This would consist of a list of features that make a film “ethnographic” but without any two ethnographic films necessarily sharing the exact same list of features. When I wrote that I had a draft list of about sixteen features I had been working on.

 

Reference

Kerim. The Four Dimensions of Ethnographic Films | Savage Minds. //https://savageminds.org/2017/07/26/the-four-dimensions-of-ethnographic-films/.

What Does It Look Like?’: On the Use of Intermediary Images in Egyptian Film Production

This article examines the use of intermediary images in the process of commercial film production in Egypt. Without being integrally part of the film product, intermediary images play a vital role in mediating interactions in the production process by anchoring the filmmakers’ multiple and sometimes conflicting representations of “the film” in visual proxies. Focusing on scouting work in two recent Egyptian films, Décor and Poisonous Roses (in postproduction), I draw attention to the way in which intermediary images allow filmmakers to imagine some aspects of the film-in-the-making while mitigating their mutual misunderstandings.

 

Reference

Khachab, Chihab El. “‘What Does It Look Like?’: On the Use of Intermediary Images in Egyptian Film Production.” Visual Anthropology Review, vol. 32, no. 2, 2016, pp. 167–79.

From Dreamland to Homeland: A Journey Toward Futures Different Than Pasts

This chapter provides an artists-scholars’ reflection on the experience of and inspiration behind the making of an essayistic documentary for the twenty-first century: Dreamland by Britt Kramvig and Rachel Andersen Gomez (Norway, 2016). Depicting people, places, and events in Sápmi, the film melds past and present. A line from the poem “Dream-Land” (1844) by Edgar Allan Poe inspired the film’s title, signaling the purposeful interweaving of multiple influences, traditions, and paradigms. The film is conceived as a theoretical and aesthetic intervention, featuring an Indigenous anthropologist performing as an “earthling”, that is, a figure committed to telling new stories…

 

Reference

Kramvig, Britt, and Rachel Andersen Gomez. “From Dreamland to Homeland: A Journey Toward Futures Different Than Pasts.” Arctic Cinemas and the Documentary Ethos, edited by Lilya Kaganovsky et al., Indiana University Press, 2019, pp. 322–34.

Embodied Visual Meaning in Film

This chapter presents an embodied account of visual meaning-making in cinema. Borrowing insights from cognitive linguistics, and in particular Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT), we intend to show how film is an exemplary case of embodied, immanent meaning. What do we mean when we say that the meaning of particular visual features in film is grounded in sensory-motor experience? And what role do image schemas play in the conveyance of abstract thought in film? These are some of the questions that we are going to address in this chapter. We start our essay with a brief discussion and criticism of the traditional conceptual view of meaning according to which meaning is considered solely as a property of language. Secondly, we show how an embodied view of meaning offers an alternative to the propositional view of meaning. We conclude our contribution with an analysis of two examples of embodied visual meaning in cinema. More specifically, we demonstrate how image schemas serve as important solutions to the problem of how to represent abstract concepts in film.

 

Reference

Kravanja, Peter, and Maarten Coëgnarts. Embodied Visual Meaning in Film. 2015, pp. 63–80.

News Sharing in Social Media: A Review of Current Research on News Sharing Users, Content, and Networks

This article provides a review of scientific, peer-reviewed articles that examine the relationship between news sharing and social media in the period from 2004 to 2014. A total of 461 articles were obtained following a literature search in two databases (Communication & Mass Media Complete [CMMC] and ACM), out of which 109 were deemed relevant based on the study’s inclusion criteria. In order to identify general tendencies and to uncover nuanced findings, news sharing research was analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively. Three central areas of research—news sharing users, content, and networks—were identified and systematically reviewed. In the central concluding section, the results of the review are used to provide a critical diagnosis of current research and suggestions on how to move forward in news sharing research.

 

Reference

Kümpel, Anna Sophie, et al. “News Sharing in Social Media: A Review of Current Research on News Sharing Users, Content, and Networks.” Social Media + Society, vol. 1, no. 2, July 2015

Tracing Communicative Patterns: A Comparative Ethnography across Platforms, Media and Contexts

This article outlines a research design for a qualitative comparative study of communication across platforms, media and contexts – in China, the US and Denmark. After addressing the limitations in previous research on digital media in everyday life, we argue in favour of a comparative ethnography of communication that emphasizes the study of intermediality by taking a people-centred approach. The methodological design combines network sampling and maximum variation sampling with communication diaries and elicitation interviews. This design makes it possible to collect small and deep communicative trace data, to capture individuals’ unique linking of all the communication tools and channels available to them and, in turn, to identify the role of the internet as it interacts and intersects with other forms of communication.

 

Reference

Lai, Signe Sophus, et al. “Tracing Communicative Patterns: A Comparative Ethnography across Platforms, Media and Contexts.” NORDICOM Review, vol. 40, Jan. 2019, pp. 141–57.

Women Arctic Explorers: in Front of and Behind the Camera

Cameras have been brought on expeditions to the Far North for over a century. Explorers who were also filmmakers include Anthony Fiala on the Ziegler Polar Expedition (1903–05), Donald MacMillan on the Crocker Land Expedition (1913–17), Fyodor Bremer on the Kolyma voyage to the Bering Strait, the Far East, and Kamchatka (1913–1914), and Leo Hansen as part of Knud Rasmussen’s Fifth Thule Expedition on dog sled from Greenland to Alaska (1921–24).

 

Reference

Larsson, Mariah, and Anna Westerstahl Stenport. “Women Arctic Explorers: in Front of and Behind the Camera.” Arctic Cinemas and the Documentary Ethos, edited by Anna Westerstahl Stenport et al., Indiana University Press, 2019, pp. 68–91.

The Balinese Cockfight Reimagined: Tajen: Interactive and the Prospects for a Multimodal Anthropology

An essay which documents a film project highlighting the iterative and creative process involved in the anthropological study of “tajen,” or the Balinese cockfight, is presented. Topics covered include the nonfiction narrative storytelling approach similar to sensory ethnography used in the film, techniques used in shooting for the film, immersion in the world of cockfighting and using the process of ethnographic observation and interviewing and the process of making Tajen: Interactive.

 

Reference

Lemelson, Robert, and Briana Young. “The Balinese Cockfight Reimagined: Tajen: Interactive and the Prospects for a Multimodal Anthropology.” American Anthropologist, vol. 120, no. 4, Dec. 2018, pp. 831–43.

Shouldn’t Love Be the One True Thing? Godard and the Legacy of Surrealist Ethics

The article focuses on an analysis of surrealism depiction in films of filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard. Topics discussed include depiction of surrealistic approaches in different films by Godard associated with New Wave period along with the Adieu au Langage film; analysis of ethnography conditions in filmmaking process of director Jean Rouch over direction of the Moi, un Noir film; and analysis of Godard’s film Vivre Sa Vie starring Anna Karina.

 

Reference

Levett, Anna. “Shouldn’t Love Be the One True Thing? Godard and the Legacy of Surrealist Ethics.” Quarterly Review of Film & Video, vol. 34, no. 8, Dec. 2017, pp. 687–706.

He Ming, New ethnography experimental series

New Ethnography Experimental Series is a series of ethnographic works which are completed by the Anthropological Research Team of the Institute of Ethic Studies at Yunnan University on the basis of long-term tracking surveys on ten ethnic groups as below Naxi, Hani, Hmong, Lisu, Nu, Bai, Hui, Axi and Sani sub-groups of Yi, and Huayao Dai. Villagers’ Daily Record is one of the series. Several local villagers document and comment on their daily activities from the perspective of their own ‘interior culture’. Their records end up in 10 volumes of Villagers’ Daily Record and each of them has covered a period of more than 1 year. This series is a pioneering outcome in response to the ethnographic writing debate for nearly 30 years among international cultural anthropologists as an experiment into China’s rural areas; culture holders become the writers of the ethnography of, and comment on, their own culture from their perspective.

 

Reference

Liang, Z. (2017). He Ming, New ethnography experimental series (10 books). Asian Ethnicity, 18(1), 141.

Queer Sex Vignettes from a Brazilian Favela: An Ethnographic Striptease

This article presents episodes of gay sex in the daily lives of people from a Brazilian shantytown (favela). It does so through a writing genre I call ‘ethnographic striptease’, which offers a picture of sexuality that is less ‘clinical’ and more similar to the form of an ‘erotic art’. This is based on the Foucauldian proposed distinction between two forms of knowledge discussed in History of Sexuality, Volume I: ‘scientia sexualis’ and ‘ars erotica’. I ask what an understanding of sexuality based more on the latter would look like. The result is presented in six concrete examples of this ethnographic form, which are provided in the article. These are followed by some personal commentaries, rather than by a ‘scientific analysis’ of them. By disrupting the boundaries of established narrative genres, the article offers a contribution towards the expansion of the ways in which human sexuality can be addressed and communicated. In a game of hiding and revealing, an ethnographic striptease offers a different look at queer sex life emerging from a large favela in Rio de Janeiro.

 

Reference

Lino e Silva, Moises. “Queer Sex Vignettes from a Brazilian Favela: An Ethnographic Striptease.” Ethnography, vol. 16, no. 2, 2015, pp. 223–39

The sensuous city: Sensory methodologies in urban ethnographic research

While urban dimensions of landscapes and the physical environment are often regarded as built structures that relate to functionality in modern life, cities are also sites of human experience that comprise social relationships, memories, emotions, and how they are negotiated on an everyday basis. Embedded within these processes of sociality is how the senses mediate one’s engagement with urban life, hence rendering insights into the multi-sensory character of urbanity. This article surveys a range of sensory methodologies that may be harnessed towards articulating the social life of the senses in urbanity such as smellscape walkabouts in order to explicate the doing of sensory ethnography in urban contexts. The aim is to elucidate how place, social actors, and sensory experiences come together in the production and analysis of urban ethnographic research, including the embodied constitutions of researchers in the process of data generation.

 

Reference

Low, K. (2015). The sensuous city: Sensory methodologies in urban ethnographic research. Ethnography, 16(3), 295-312.

The Sensuous City: Sensory Methodologies in Urban Ethnographic Research

While urban dimensions of landscapes and the physical environment are often regarded as built structures that relate to functionality in modern life, cities are also sites of human experience that comprise social relationships, memories, emotions, and how they are negotiated on an everyday basis. Embedded within these processes of sociality is how the senses mediate one’s engagement with urban life, hence rendering insights into the multi-sensory character of urbanity. This article surveys a range of sensory methodologies that may be harnessed towards articulating the social life of the senses in urbanity such as smellscape walkabouts in order to explicate the doing of sensory ethnography in urban contexts. The aim is to elucidate how place, social actors, and sensory experiences come together in the production and analysis of urban ethnographic research, including the embodied constitutions of researchers in the process of data generation.

 

Reference

Low, Kelvin E. Y. “The Sensuous City: Sensory Methodologies in Urban Ethnographic Research.” Ethnography, vol. 16, no. 3, 2015, pp. 295–312.

The Creative Treatment of Alterity: Nanook as the North

This chapter considers Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North (US, 1922) – probably the most famous Arctic film ever made – and the many, often fraught, reiterations of the film in the cinematic imaginary of the Arctic. Starting with Flaherty’s film – typically understood to be, pace John Grierson, the first ‘documentary’ – the chapter examines the ways in which the stories of ‘Nanook’ (played by Inuit hunter Allakariallak) and Flaherty have been continuously rearticulated throughout cinema history, in works as diverse as realist ethnographic documentaries like Nanook Revisited (Claude Massot, France, 1990), narrative feature film retellings of Flaherty’s filming…

 

Reference

MacKenzie, Scott. “The Creative Treatment of Alterity: Nanook as the North.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 201–14.

Respecifying Lab Ethnography: An Ethnomethodological Study of Experimental Physics

This is the set of questions at the heart of Philippe Sormani’s recent ‘reflexive ethnography’ of an experimental physics lab performing scanning tunnelling microscopy of complex superconducting compounds (STM of CSC). The book as a whole is Sormani’s self‐conscious attempt to produce a ‘new’ type of ethnomethodological lab study – one that does not make the same mistakes as its famous predecessors within the field of science and technology studies (STS). Sormani’s main critique of prior work within scientific spaces – such as Latour and Woolgar’s seminal Laboratory life (1979), Sharon Traweek’s pioneering Beamtimes and lifetimes (1988), and Michael Lynch’s now‐classic Scientific practice and ordinary action (1995) – is that it focused too much on the ‘social construction’ of scientific artefacts and ignored the ‘constitutive practices’ (p. 16) of work in any lab. He argues, convincingly and with an astonishing level of rich, granular ethnographic detail, that STS scholars make a fundamental error whenever they go into a lab with the intention of fitting whatever they observe back into ideas or theories that originate outside the lab. Rather, Sormani’s research in STM of CSC is a concerted effort to use lab work to talk about lab work (p. 233), to use the concepts from inside the lab to theorize the lab. There’s no attempt, as in other works that focus on the daily routines of scientists, to apply philosophical concepts to the lab.

 

Reference

MacPhail, T. (2017). Sormani, Philippe. Respecifying Lab Ethnography: An Ethnomethodological Study of Experimental Physics. xvi, 278 pp., illus., figs, bibliogr. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2015. £70.00 (cloth). Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 23(2), 439-440.

Doing “Indigenous” Ethnography as a Cultural Outsider: Lessons From the Four Seasons

This piece narrates the author’s experience with González’s Four Seasons of Ethnography framework as an ethnographer-in-training in an advanced field research methods course conducted in a small Rarámuri village in the Copper Canyon of Mexico. Three core elements emerged as the narrative’s focal interest: the nature-based logic of the Four Seasons framework, the tensions between indigenous child-rearing practices and modernizing influences among the Rarámuri, and the problematic of conducting indigenously grounded research in a community not one’s own. Learnings highlight the unique oeuvre lent by the “Four Seasons” framework and its potential for transforming knowledge production about the “other” within the academy and beyond.

 

Reference

Mendoza, S. (2016). Doing “Indigenous” Ethnography as a Cultural Outsider: Lessons From the Four Seasons. Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 9(2), 140-160.

Making Sense of Education: Sensory Ethnography and Visual Impairment

Education involves the engagement of the full range of the senses in the accomplishment of tasks and the learning of knowledge and skills. However both in pedagogical practices and in the process of educational research, there has been a tendency to privilege the visual. To explore these issues, detailed sensory ethnographic fieldwork was conducted in further education colleges, investigating the experiences of visually impaired students who use their non-visual senses and embodied actions to achieve their learning. The study found that the full sensory schemas of the students were not always appreciated or accessed by tutors, resulting in lost learning opportunities. Whilst particularly relevant for visually impaired students, these findings have implications for pedagogy for all students. Further the study highlighted the significance of sensory ethnography as a tool to explore the processes of teaching and learning.

 

Reference

Morris, C. (2017). Making Sense of Education: Sensory Ethnography and Visual Impairment. Ethnography and Education, 12(1), 1-16.

Scouting the Past: A Conversation with Priya Jaikumar on Where Histories Reside: India as Filmed Space

Kartik Nair in conversation with Priya Jaikumar about her new book, Where Histories Reside: India as Filmed Space.

 

Reference

Nair, Kartik. “Scouting the Past: A Conversation with Priya Jaikumar on Where Histories Reside: India as Filmed Space.” Film Quarterly, 10 Sept. 2019, https://filmquarterly.org/2019/09/10/scouting-the-past-a-conversation-with-priya-jaikumar-on-where-histories-reside-india-as-filmed-space/.

Digital–visual–sensory-design Anthropology: Ethnography, Imagination and Intervention

In this article I outline how a digital–visual–sensory approach to anthropological ethnography might participate in the making of relationship between design and anthropology. While design anthropology is itself coming of age, the potential of its relationship with applied visual anthropology methodology and theory has not been considered in the existing debates in this field. Here I bring this question to the centre of the discussion through a reflection on the themes, issues and limitations of applied visual anthropology and how, with the ability of design thinking to engage with the future, this might develop. I argue then for a future-oriented applied visual anthropology that engages with the everyday, ethnography and design as processual and situated at the innovative edge of what is possible.

 

Reference

Pink, S. (2014). Digital–visual–sensory-design Anthropology: Ethnography, Imagination and Intervention. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 13(4), 412-427.

Digital-visual Stakeholder Ethnography

In this article, we discuss how new configurations of stakeholders are implicated and can be conceptualised in digital-visual applied and public ethnography. We set the discussion in the context of the increasing calls for researchers to have impact in the world and the ways that digital technologies are increasingly implicated in this. In doing so, we situate ethnographic practice and stakeholder relationships within a digital-material world. To develop our argument, we discuss examples of two recent digital video ethnography projects, developed in dialogue with anthropological theory, with online digital-visual applied and public dissemination outputs. As we show, such projects do not necessarily have one direct applied line, but rather can have multiple impacts across different groups of stakeholders.

There are quite a few benefits that

You are article on racism in america going to want to inquire to provide you references from previous clients.

include being able to make art.

 

Reference

Pink, S., Postill, J., Leder Mackley, K., & Astari, N. (2017). Digital-visual Stakeholder Ethnography. Sociological Research Online, 22(4), 174-192.

We Come As Friends’, or Do We? Hubert Sauper’s New Documentary on South Sudan

We Come As Friends is about as idiosyncratic a film as I could imagine — visually stunning, lyrically composed, hilariously opinionated — meaning it may not be a smash hit at the box office when it is released in theaters this Friday, but anyone who sees it is in for the closest we’ll ever come to a hybridization of Michael Moore and the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab. That is never going to happen, so you have to check this out.

 

Reference

Roston, Tom. “‘We Come As Friends’, or Do We? Hubert Sauper’s New Documentary on South Sudan.” POV’s Documentary Blog, http://archive.pov.org/blog/docsoup/2015/08/we-come-as-friends-or-do-we-hubert-saupers-new-documentary-on-south-sudan/.

The Artful, Intelligent and Unconventional Approach That Sets MoMA’s Doc Fortnight Apart

Artful, intelligent and unconventional, the documentaries that get their due at MoMA’s Doc Fortnight showcase each year may not be mainstream, but they don’t aspire to be. This year’s festival is bookended with the fantastic opening night film Machines, first-time filmmaker Rahul Jain’s portrait of a textile factory in India (think Harvard University’s Sensory Ethnography Lab with a social compass), and the closing night’s Tip of My Tongue, Lynne Sachs’ oral history gathering of 50-something New Yorkers sharing personal reflections of their lives.

 

Reference

Roston, Tom. “The Artful, Intelligent and Unconventional Approach That Sets MoMA’s Doc Fortnight Apart.” POV’s Documentary Blog, http://archive.pov.org/blog/docsoup/2017/02/artful-intelligent-and-unconventional-nonfiction-documentary-films-of-moma-doc-fortnight/.

Los Reyes and What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire Take Viewers Deep into Two Communities

Los Reyes and What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire take viewers deep into two communities — A Chilean skate park through the eyes of two dogs and a Black neighborhood in New Orleans.

 

Reference

Sachs, Ben. “Los Reyes and What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire Take Viewers Deep into Two Communities.” Chicago Reader, https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/los-reyes-perut-osnovikoff-what-you-gonna-do-minervini/Content?oid=72787597.

Mutual Experiences: Understanding Children’s Play in Nature Through Sensory Ethnography

This paper introduces the concept ‘mutual experiences’ to highlight how a researcher’s sensory experiences may contribute to producing knowledge concerning children’s bodily play in a natural environment. The article also demonstrates how photo-interviews can give a researcher virtual access to places and events where s/he cannot be present. The inspiration for the concept of ‘mutual experiences’ emerged from three sources: (1) The premise that human experiences and knowledge are embodied and develop interactively from environments, (2) the literature on sensory ethnography and (3) ethnographically inspired studies of children playing in a natural environment. The concept is illustrated through an analysis of empirical examples. It is argued that applying this concept could contribute to a more open, enriched and intersubjective understanding of children’s interactive play in a natural environment. Article ahead-of-print.

 

Reference

Sanderud, J. (2018). Mutual Experiences: Understanding Children’s Play in Nature Through Sensory Ethnography. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 1-12.

Arctic Travelogues: Conquering the Soviet North

Early Soviet policies towards the numerically small Northern and Far Eastern indigenous populations emerged from a nineteenth-century populist framework that saw cultural extinction as a major problem (Kuper 1988: 2–3). In the early 1920s, the Soviet press frequently presented the situation of the indigenous population of the North as ‘worsening’, ‘becoming harder’, and finally reaching a ‘catastrophic’ stage (cf. Ianovich 1923: 251–4; Slezkine 1994: 131–83). Soviet nationality policy, defined by Francine Hirsch as a ‘state-sponsored evolutionism’, grounded the Soviet ‘civilizing mission’ in the Marxist concept of development through historical stages (Hirsch 2005: 7).

 

Reference

Sarkisova, Oksana. “Arctic Travelogues: Conquering the Soviet North.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 222–34.

Arrival Stories: Using Participatory, Embodied, Sensory Ethnography to Explore the Making of an English City for Newly Arrived International Students

Places are more than mere locations indicated by coordinates on a map. They are sites invested with meaning that arises out of mobile, embodied, sensuous experience. The construction of place is explored here in the context of participatory, embodied, sensory ethnographic research. I curated a series of ethnographic engagements with international students who were newly arrived in the city of Manchester, England. A participatory, embodied, sensory ethnographic method was used to explore ways in which meaningful places are constructed through the body and senses. This article reports on walking interviews with Tala (from Zambia), Ann (from Romania), Al (from Tunisia), Abbie (from Spain), and her guide dog Tori (from the U.S.), to explore their corporeal and sensuous engagements with their new city, using a combination of transcribed interviews and other, less language-based products of our engagements (photography, artifacts, soundscapes).

 

Reference

Stevenson, A. (2017). Arrival Stories: Using Participatory, Embodied, Sensory Ethnography to Explore the Making of an English City for Newly Arrived International Students. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 46(5), 544-572.

From Objects to Actors: Knud Rasmussen’s Ethnographic Feature Film the Wedding of Palo

During the summer months of 1932 and 1933, the 7th Thule Expedition led an international team of researchers, under Knud Rasmussen’s guidance, to Greenland’s east coast. There, the team conducted cartographic work, as well as archaeological and geological investigations. In 1921, Denmark had declared the entirety of Greenland and its surrounding waters to be Danish territory, and had since that time been in open conflict with Norway. The Norwegians, independent since 1905, regarded Greenland as their historical property, and recognised only the colonies situated on the west coast as Danish territory.

 

Reference

Volquardsen, Ebbe. “From Objects to Actors: Knud Rasmussen’s Ethnographic Feature Film the Wedding of Palo.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 215–21.

Visual Anthropology in Sardinia: Interview with Silvio Carta

Silvio Carta completed his PhD in Italian Studies at the University of Birmingham. His articles and reviews have appeared in Visual Anthropology, Visual Anthropology Review, Visual Studies, Visual Ethnography, and Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies, among other publications. To find out more about his book Visual Anthropology in Sardinia, Film Matters conducted a Q & A with Carta via email correspondence (June-July 2015).

 

Reference

Warpoole, Kailyn N. Visual Anthropology in Sardinia: Interview with Silvio Carta. By Kailyn N. Warpole | Film Matters Magazine. https://www.filmmattersmagazine.com/2015/09/21/visual-anthropology-in-sardinia-interview-with-silvio-carta-by-kailyn-n-warpole/.

Cannes 2018 Dispatch #1: Everybody Knows, Birds of Passage

One’s valuation of a film—really, any piece of art—is inseparable from the conditions in which it was experienced. The time of day or overall mood and health at the time of the screening (or link-watching) inform my appreciation of a movie just as much as anything else (save for aesthetic preference and sensibility, perhaps), and this extends to festival contexts—to the ways a film participates in the narrative arc of the nine or ten or twelve days of the event, to the impatience stemming from a lack of masterpieces (or good movies, period), and so on. I bring this up to provide some reference for why I might have been especially ill-positioned to receive my first two movies of this year’s Cannes: Asghar Farhadi’s Everybody Knows, which opened the Official Selection last night, and Cristina Gallego & Ciro Guerra’s Birds of Passage, which opened the 50th Directors’ Fortnight this morning.

 

Reference

Williams, Blake. “Cannes 2018 Dispatch #1: Everybody Knows, Birds of Passage.” Filmmaker Magazine, https://filmmakermagazine.com/105310-cannes-2018-dispatch-1-everybody-knows-birds-of-passage/.

Experimental Ethnography


Sensory Reverberations: Rethinking the Temporal and Experiential Boundaries of War Ethnography

This article explores the value of attention to sensory experiences in the study of conflict and war, and in particular those of the ethnographer herself when she has previously lived through war and violence. It is at once an invitation for greater sensitivity to auditory and olfactory dimensions in researching violence and a critical questioning of the perception of a limited temporality in the fieldwork experience. Living through war involves repeated encounters with violence and a prolonged ‘living-in’ its shadow. Every encounter with violence bridges different temporalities. The present moment, memories of past violence and concerns about their recurrence in the future – all create a sense of we-ness among subjects. The lived experience of war is cumulative; it etches its marks on its subjects’ souls and bodies, its impact varying as its subjects go through different life stages. It is also intergenerational as the individual experience of violence is often closely tied to the experiences of past generations and expectations for future generations.

 

Reference

Al-Masri, M. (2017). Sensory Reverberations: Rethinking the Temporal and Experiential Boundaries of War Ethnography. Contemporary Levant, 2(1), 37-48.

Performative Ethnography: Difference and Conviviality of Everyday Multiculturalism in Bellville (Cape Town)

The paper explores the benefits of performative ethnography as a methodological intervention. The intervention discussed in this paper utilizes the persuasive power of aesthetics and performance to attain participation amongst a broad spectrum of research interlocutors and to challenge my own power and positionality in the fieldwork, whilst rendering me invisible as a participant observer. The performative ethnography discussed in this paper took place in the central business district (CBD) of Bellville, in the Cape Town area in South Africa, and consists of two performances, curated by the author, that took place at the same time. One is a painting performance through which Somali participants were invited to express their emotional experiences of living in Cape Town, and their memories, nostalgia and attachment to their land of origin. The painting performance revealed Somali diversity, multiple belongings and a politics of making cultural difference. The second performance was staged to overlap, in ways unanticipated by the participants, and consisted of a South African minstrel troupe walking through Bellville CBD, attaining a moment of conviviality through the unmaking of cultural difference. Beneath this methodological intervention is an exploration of the politics of difference and the conviviality of Bellville CBD’s everyday multiculturalism.

 

Reference

Alhourani, A. (2017). Performative Ethnography: Difference and Conviviality of Everyday Multiculturalism in Bellville (Cape Town). Journal of African Cultural Studies, 29(2), 211-226

Inclusive Sensory Ethnography: Studying New Media and Neurodiversity in Everyday Life

Media and communication studies has recently begun to ethnographically explore the sensory dimensions of how individuals experience and perceive technology. This turn toward the sensorial has centered primarily on the five “external” senses (sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste) and less so on “internal” vestibular and proprioceptive systems that concern bodily spatial positioning. I propose inclusive sensory ethnography to account for greater neurodiversity in how humans process sensory input, as well as a fuller range of multi-sensory encounters with new media. I ground this conceptualization in a qualitative study of young children on the autism spectrum with difficulties processing sensory information and their social engagements with print, screen, and interactive media. Inclusive sensory ethnography reveals novel understandings of how the internal senses shape and are shaped by mediated relationships, practices, and intimacies. I discuss further implications for how disability and inclusive sensory ethnography can enrich the study of everyday technology use.

 

Reference

Alper, M. (2018). Inclusive Sensory Ethnography: Studying New Media and Neurodiversity in Everyday Life. New Media & Society, 20(10), 3560-3579.

Inclusive Sensory Ethnography: Studying New Media and Neurodiversity in Everyday Life

Media and communication studies has recently begun to ethnographically explore the sensory dimensions of how individuals experience and perceive technology. This turn toward the sensorial has centered primarily on the five “external” senses (sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste) and less so on “internal” vestibular and proprioceptive systems that concern bodily spatial positioning. I propose inclusive sensory ethnography to account for greater neurodiversity in how humans process sensory input, as well as a fuller range of multi-sensory encounters with new media. I ground this conceptualization in a qualitative study of young children on the autism spectrum with difficulties processing sensory information and their social engagements with print, screen, and interactive media. Inclusive sensory ethnography reveals novel understandings of how the internal senses shape and are shaped by mediated relationships, practices, and intimacies. I discuss further implications for how disability and inclusive sensory ethnography can enrich the study of everyday technology use.

 

Reference

Alper, Meryl. “Inclusive Sensory Ethnography: Studying New Media and Neurodiversity in Everyday Life.” New Media & Society, vol. 20, no. 10, Oct. 2018, pp. 3560–79

Filming Fore, Shooting Scientists: Medical Research, Experimental Filmmaking, and Documentary Cinema

After World War II the research film increasingly became instrumental in medical science and cultural anthropology, especially in the recording and analysis of non-recurring events in isolated or “primitive” communities. Ambitiously, Carleton Gajdusek and Richard Sorenson in the 1960s sought to accumulate a global film archive of such communities, focusing on clinical disorders, such as kuru among the Fore people of New Guinea, and patterns of child health and development. Ostensibly objective, and certainly distancing, the camera also was for them a desiring machine, thus relating their archival project to the contemporary experimental films of Warhol in New York. Comparison with associated documentary film, with its emphasis on editorial selection, thematic coherence and narrative closure, reveals differences in how filmic investigators engage with their subjects, as well as discordances in valuation and ethics.

 

Reference

Anderson, Warwick. “Filming Fore, Shooting Scientists: Medical Research, Experimental Filmmaking, and Documentary Cinema.” Visual Anthropology, vol. 32, no. 2, Mar. 2019, pp. 109–27.

Jean Rouch’s Moi, Un Noir in the French New Wave

This article highlights the significance of Jean Rouch’s experimental ethnographic film Moi, un Noir (1958) in the genesis of the quintessential New Wave film, À bout de souffle (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960), taking seriously the idea expressed by several critics of the time that À bout de souffle was an ethnography of French youth. Following a close reading of Moi, un Noir and comparative readings of Moi, un Noir, À bout de souffle, and their French reception, the author briefly highlights Rouch’s influence on the other key film of the New Wave, Les 400 coups (François Truffaut, 1959). Rouch’s influence on the two emblematic films of the New Wave is particularly significant in light of his own turn, after years filming in France’s sub-Saharan African colonies, to making several films in metropolitan France. The central aim of this article is to elucidate the role of Rouch in the New Wave. An ancillary aim is to show that Moi, un Noir and À bout de souffle mark two key points in a striking shift in the cutting-edge French cinema of the late 1950s and 1960s: a growing inclination to survey metropolitan France as a suddenly exotic space, and to conceive of the French as viable ethnographic subjects.

 

Reference

Astourian, Laure. “Jean Rouch’s Moi, Un Noir in the French New Wave.” Studies in French Cinema, vol. 18, no. 3, July 2018, pp. 252–66.

Creando Espacio Para La Etnografía Visual En La Investigación Educativa

This article maps the territory of visual ethnography as a key and accessible research methodology in education. It aims to provide an overview and to present theory and practice for future research. The origins and principles of visual ethnography are disclosed as well as some methods to gather data. From the premise that either created by the researcher, by the participants, or through collaboration between both, images may be the core of analysis of social and cultural views and perceptions of students, educators, administrators and community members. The author addresses ethical issues like confidentiality, and highlights possible biases like authenticity, negotiated construction, trustworthiness, and deception of information. The main conclusions highlighted the importance of visual ethnography as a key methodology to elicit rich data that access students’ voices, the space for participatory techniques, and the role of technology as an undeniable participant.

 

Reference

Barrantes-Elizondo, Lena. “Creando Espacio Para La Etnografía Visual En La Investigación Educativa.” Revista Electrónica Educare, vol. 23, no. 2, Feb. 2019, pp. 1–15.

Film the Police! Cop-Watching and Its Embodied Narratives

Police accountability organizations known as ‘cop-watching’ groups are proliferating thanks to smartphone penetration and the ease of video sharing on social networks. These groups use digital media technologies to challenge official accounts of events and encroach on the borders of traditional journalism. This qualitative project collected material over the course of 2 years, and uses participant observation and long-form interviews to explore the nature of this activism. Grounded analysis suggests that cop-watching represents a unique form of citizenship; one that combines text and practice to produce embodied narratives, which can give voice to the concerns of others. As a form of so-called sousveillance, cop-watching extends and complicates existing theories about surveillance, journalism, and visual evidence.

 

Reference

Bock, Mary Angela. “Film the Police! Cop-Watching and Its Embodied Narratives.” Journal of Communication, vol. 66, no. 1, Feb. 2016, pp. 13–34.

The Flesh of The Perceptible’: The New Materialism of Leviathan

This article seeks to entangle two current philosophic praxes: New Materialism, and Sensory Ethnography. Jane Bennett has become one of New Materialism’s most prominent proponents since the release of her now-seminal text, Vibrant Matter in 2010. Due to the varied ground upon which New Materialism stands (often conflated with object-oriented ontology, post-humanism, and other general turns within nonhumanism), Bennett’s work will be looked at idiosyncratically, then pushed into the realm of the cinematic via an analysis of the documentary, Leviathan. Directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel, this film was among the first exemplary works to emerge from the Sensory Ethnography Lab, based at Harvard University. In striving for a revitalization of ethnographic film practices, the Lab aligns itself with similarly non-anthropocentric, and nondiscursive, aspects of experience to the New Materialism of Jane Bennett. By placing these two contemporary camps into conversation, this article intends to reposition them both: New Materialism as a vehicle for the Sensory Ethnographic, and the SEL as an exhibition of the kind of world Bennett’s philosophy envisages. The article concludes with an assessment of the political and eco-political critiques and ramifications surrounding these works.

 

Reference

Bowens, Max. “‘The Flesh of The Perceptible’: The New Materialism of Leviathan.” Film-Philosophy, vol. 22, no. 3, Oct. 2018, pp. 428–47.

Sensuous Ethnography

Brunner-Sung features filmmaker Chick Strand. Sensuous, deeply felt, rigorous, uncompromising — the work of Strand belongs in the canon of avant-garde cinema alongside that of her contemporaries Stan Brakhage and Bruces Baillie. As co-founder with Baillie of the floating cinematheque’ Canyon Cinema in 1961, Strand helped create an audience for experimental filmmakers, which she maintained over 24 years as a professor in Los Angeles. Her own mastery of poetic abstraction, found footage and lyrical ethnography make her filmography one of the most dynamic and distinctive of an era. An anthropology student who went onto study ethnographic film, Strand is most often associated with work documenting the people she encountered in Mexico, in and around the town of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato. For years she spent her summers there, always with a 16 mm camera in hand: among the many portraits she created before her death in 2009 are Anselmo (1967), Woman of a Thousand Fires (1978), Fake Fruit Factory (1986) and Senora con flores (1995/2011). The 1971 film Mosori Monika, which considers the relationship between missionaries and native Waraos in Venezuela, exemplifies Strand’s signature, intimate style: caressing movements and features in close-up, pulling viewers in with a telescoped lens, incorporating the subject’s thoughts via voiceover narration.

 

Reference

Brunner-Sung, Vera. “Sensuous Ethnography.” Sight and Sound; London, Dec. 2015, 53.

One Image, Two Stories: Ethnographic and Touristic Photography and the Practice of Craft in Mexico

Although tourists and ethnographers take photos with different intentions and for different uses, the images they produce may be essentially similar. I explore this matter in reference to a photograph I took during research in Oaxaca, Mexico, one that is also commonly taken by tourists who visit the woodcarving workshops there. While this photo is persuasive within touristic discourses that frame Oaxaca as reflecting authentic indigenous culture, the story it tells within my ethnography is more complicated. In discussing the space between these stories, I suggest that photographs of craft practices may in turn reconstitute artisans’ practices themselves.

 

Reference

Cant, Alanna. “One Image, Two Stories: Ethnographic and Touristic Photography and the Practice of Craft in Mexico.” Visual Anthropology, vol. 28, no. 4, Sept. 2015, pp. 277–85.

Applied Visual Anthropology in the Progressive Era: The Influence of Lewis Hine’s Child Labor Photographs

This case study discusses how the interpretive photographer, Lewis W. Hine (1874-1940), and his Child Labor series (1908-1918) during the Progressive Era in America (1890-1920) could be considered a precursor to applied visual anthropology. Identifying his work as interpretive of reformers’ values rather than documented evidence demonstrates one method of photographic ethnography, which drives the approach of applied visual anthropology. This paper analyzes the successes and limitations of Hine’s approach, and will identify examples of his work in order to show how his investigations contributed towards the development of an applied visual anthropological approach.

 

Reference

Cerku, Ashley. “Applied Visual Anthropology in the Progressive Era: The Influence of Lewis Hine’s Child Labor Photographs.” Visual Anthropology, vol. 32, no. 3/4, May 2019, pp. 221–39.

What’s in It for Me?’: Negotiations of Asymmetries, Concerns and Interests between the Researcher and Research Subjects

Pre-interview interactions between qualitative researchers and research subjects are characterized by two-way sense-making processes, through which research subjects attempt to make sense of researchers’ intentions, and what they themselves stand to gain or lose from participating in a given research. Based on a reflexive account of my ethnographic fieldwork experiences in Kenya’s South Coast region, among men known as ‘beach boys’ and as participants of ‘female sex tourism’, I illustrate how the concerns and interests of my target interviewees were generated and negotiated during the pre-interview phase. I do so by analyzing our pre-interview interactions, drawing links between my assigned identities, asymmetries between us and the concerns and interests that were generated, as the men considered their participation or non-participation in the research.

 

Reference

Chege, Njeri. “‘What’s in It for Me?’: Negotiations of Asymmetries, Concerns and Interests between the Researcher and Research Subjects.” Ethnography, vol. 16, no. 4, 2015, pp. 463–81.

WhichWayNC: A Model for Mobile Media Development

This student newsroom ethnography examines the emergent culture and values of a group-created news and information content with a mobile-first focus. Using semi-structured interviews from 12 participants working on a mobile-optimized summer news project, the study provides insights on the work practices of the digital student newsroom. Validated through the use of textual analysis and member checks, these findings offer four key values that are applicable as part of a reflexive pedagogy in student digital media production. This study offers insights that can be scaled for a journalism program of any size.

 

Reference

Clark, Meredith D. “WhichWayNC: A Model for Mobile Media Development.” Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, vol. 70, no. 3, Sept. 2015, pp. 251–63.

Walking, Mothering and Care: A Sensory Ethnography of Journeying on-foot With Children in Wollongong, Australia

This article presents a material feminist perspective into motherhood and walking. Our aim is to explore the process of women ‘becoming mothers’ through journeying on-foot somewhere with children in car-dependent cities. To do so we utilise empirical material gathered as part of a walking sensory ethnography with families living in Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia. Drawing on Deleuze and Guattari’s assemblage thinking and a feminist care ethics we argue that entanglements with bodies and materials alongside ideas, emotions and affects shape how motherhood becomes and is felt on-the-move through ‘moments of care’. We discuss five moments where care emerges not just as a gendered practice, but as an affective force and embodiment of motherhood; these include: preparedness, togetherness, playfulness, watchfulness, and attentiveness. Instead of assuming the figure of the mother is a given identity; insights are provided into how the dilemmas of becoming a ‘good’ mobile mother are felt through moments of care.

 

Reference

Clement, S., & Waitt, G. (2017). Walking, Mothering and Care: A Sensory Ethnography of Journeying on-foot With Children in Wollongong, Australia. Gender, Place & Culture, 24(8), 1185-1203.

Senses of HumaNature on Florida’s Silver River: Evocative Ethnography to Craft Place

The spaces where humans, plants, and animals intermingle are rich junctures of mobility, sensuality, and impressions that together evoke a sense of place. Visual anthropology can help interpret these humaNature events–where dichotomies and divisions are blurred, and lived experiences of multispecies mingling are brought to the fore through emerging practices that apply experiential and experimental devices. Attending to emotional textures of intimacy, soundscapes of multiple species, and embodied, sensuous ways of knowing that do not privilege solely the agency of human actors, nor rely primarily on a linear narrative and didactic logic, the academic-artistic endeavor that I discuss in this article–and demonstrate in its accompanying short video, Senses of Silver River–is aimed at bringing feminist, decolonial ways of knowing the world to the forefront (cf. Collins; Harrison; Trinh). Toward this effort, I propose a methodological intervention that I call evocative ethnography, which favors a sensorial realm to explore, interpret, and share a sense of place.

 

Reference

Concha-Holmes, A. (2015). Senses of HumaNature on Florida’s Silver River: Evocative Ethnography to Craft Place. Visual Anthropology Review, 31(1), 62-72.

Senses of HumaNature on Florida’s Silver River: Evocative Ethnography to Craft Place

The spaces where humans, plants, and animals intermingle are rich junctures of mobility, sensuality, and impressions that together evoke a sense of place. Visual anthropology can help interpret these humaNature events—where dichotomies and divisions are blurred, and lived experiences of multispecies mingling are brought to the fore through emerging practices that apply experiential and experimental devices. Attending to emotional textures of intimacy, soundscapes of multiple species, and embodied, sensuous ways of knowing that do not privilege solely the agency of human actors, nor rely primarily on a linear narrative and didactic logic, the academic-artistic endeavor that I discuss in this article—and demonstrate in its accompanying short video, Senses of Silver River—is aimed at bringing feminist, decolonial ways of knowing the world to the forefront (cf. Collins; Harrison; Trinh). Toward this effort, I propose a methodological intervention that I call evocative ethnography, which favors a sensorial realm to explore, interpret, and share a sense of place.

 

Reference

Concha‐Holmes, Amanda. “Senses of HumaNature on Florida’s Silver River: Evocative Ethnography to Craft Place.” Visual Anthropology Review, vol. 31, no. 1, 2015, pp. 62–72.

Introduction

It is estimated that there are more than 100,000 islands in the world. The study of these islands is found predominantly within the sciences and social sciences- in disciplines such as Geography, Geology, Zoology, Ethnography, Anthropology, Sociology, Politics and International Relations-and with often a focus on regions such as the Pacific, Southeast Asia, or the Caribbean. With so much of the world’s populations found on islands-from Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines and Hong Kong to Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Ireland and the United Kingdom-it is unsurprising that cinema has repeatedly turned to island life as a subject. Yet, film studies has largely ignored the geographical, spatial, and cultural significance of the many island-set movies. This special issue of Post Script focuses on the theme of ‘Islands and Film’ and moves beyond the studies of national cinemas that have been dominating the understandings of regional film representations.

 

Reference

Conrich, Ian, et al. “Introduction.” Post Script; Commerce, vol. 37, no. 2/3, Winter-Summer 2018, pp. 3-4, I.

George Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier: an Experimental Ethnographic Study With a Novelist’s Touch

Although numerous critics identify The Road to Wigan Pier as George Orwell’s flawed depiction of working class life, Orwell’s memoir paints a picture of early ethnographic techniques in twentieth century England. This essay examines Orwell’s fieldworking process in terms of gaining access, representing informants, representing the self, and giving back to the community. In the essay, I acknowledge the flaws in Orwell’s fieldworking process while arguing that The Road to Wigan Pier should be labeled as an experimental ethnographic study. What readers consider flaws are in fact Orwell’s early attempts in experimenting and refining his fieldworking process, a process influenced by his work as a novelist. As a novelist and ethnographer, Orwell creates an intriguing vehicle for social change, for his vivid descriptions capture readers’ interest while the text calls attention to the working class’s living conditions.

 

Reference

Crawley, K. (2016). George Orwell’s the Road to Wigan Pier: an Experimental Ethnographic Study With a Novelist’s Touch. Prose Studies, 38(2), 137-151.

American Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary: The Cambridge Turn/Avant-Doc: Intersections of Documentary & Avant-Garde Cinema

While he acknowledges that documentary and avant-garde have co-existed in cinema from the start (from Eadweard Muybridge’s and Étienne-Jules Marey’s protocinematic visual studies of animal motion to city symphonies to visual experimentations by Joris Ivens and many others), he champions the development of lightweight cameras and portable audio equipment in the 1950s as an opportunity for both cinéma-vérité innovation and the expansion of avant-garde movements.

 

Reference

Cummings, Doug. “American Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary: The Cambridge Turn/Avant-Doc: Intersections of Documentary & Avant-Garde Cinema.” The Spectator; Los Angeles, Fall 2016

The Starling’s Tale: A Performative Ethnography Showing Deaf Children’s Schooling in the Republic of Ireland

The ways in which we approach children and childhood as variables of social analysis has undergone profound change in the last quarter century in the Republic of Ireland. This performative ethnography inquires into the secret lore and language of deaf children’s lives in one residential school. Out of sight of the community of the other, children willfully embodied a transgressive, liberatory, and decolonizing sign language of their own. Medium and message come together in this performative ethnography through a clutch of theatrical devices associated with the “epic theater” of the German playwright and theater director, Bertolt Brecht, including loosely connected scenes, storyline turns, political placards, and addresses to audience. Techniques associated with “found poetry,” or the literary equivalent of collage, are combined with pentimenti or a painting within a painting to fuse image and word and bring forward a critical and political aesthetics of deaf children and deaf schooling and new media for encouraging alternative social imaginaries and possible actions.

 

Reference

Deegan, J., & O’connell, N. (2019). The Starling’s Tale: A Performative Ethnography Showing Deaf Children’s Schooling in the Republic of Ireland. Qualitative Inquiry, 25(1), 69-79.

BarkTV: Portrait of an Innovator

Jean-Luc Nancy describes the portrait as ‘first and foremost an encounter’, though in fact, as Nancy clearly appreciates, the art of portraiture puts multiple encounters into play. The most obvious is that between the viewer and the subject of the artwork, an experience often charged with an unnerving immediacy. Yet all portraits await viewers already imprinted with the echo of encounter. More than most, this is an art form that calls attention to the relationship between artist and subject: two people united in a shared project of portrayal.

 

Reference

Deger, Jennifer. “BarkTV: Portrait of an Innovator.” Imaging Identity, edited by MELINDA HINKSON, ANU Press, 2016, pp. 117–40.

More than Corpses, Less than Ghosts: A Visual Theory of Culture in Early Ethnographic Photography

In its intent to make “culture” visible through the objective depiction of specific scenes of indigenous life, ethnographic photography at the turn of the twentieth century could be understood against two other scientific uses of the camera at that time: the anatomic photographs of physical anthropologists, on the one hand, and the ghost photographs of spiritualist circles, on the other. Indeed, while capturing “culture” involved having more than still bodies appear on the picture, which implied elaborate apparatuses meant to make it happen in front of the camera lens, early ethnographers were anxious not to let too much appear either, as “culture” was supposed to manifest itself more subtly than the ghosts revealed through spirit photography. This article thus argues that photographing “culture” at the turn of the twentieth century meant getting its invisibility right; it describes some of the devices and operations early ethnographers used to make it appear objectively.

 

Reference

Delaplace, Gregory. “More than Corpses, Less than Ghosts: A Visual Theory of Culture in Early Ethnographic Photography.” Visual Anthropology Review, vol. 35, no. 1, 2019, pp. 37–49.

Devious Design: Digital Infrastructure Challenges for Experimental Ethnography

Diverse disciplinary communities approach design with diverse design logics design directives informed by critical theoretical commitments that are to be translated into material form. Recounting the design of a digital humanities platform, this paper shows how design logics of existing digital infrastructure can at times be out of sync with those of a design community seeking to leverage it. I argue that, in such situations, a designer should do more than simply “make do” with available infrastructure; the designer should instead design deviously – leveraging infrastructure in ways that undercut its logics. This suggests that reflective design involves reflecting, not only on design practice, but also on the logics of the infrastructure available to designers.

 

Reference

Devious Design: Digital Infrastructure Challenges for Experimental Ethnography. (2017). Design Issues, 33(2), 70-83.

Minecraft and Children’s Digital Making: Implications for Media Literacy Education

This article aims to contribute new knowledge about the media literacies children assemble as they play the digital game Minecraft which it describes as a children’s digital making platform. The article argues media literacy’s tendency to use socio-cultural and humanist accounts of media participation limit its ability to fully explain digital making practices. Socio-material and performative literacy theories are used to introduce a framework for exploring digital media literacies across four nodes: digital materials, media production, conceptual understanding and media analysis. The article’s second half outlines how the author uses digital ethnography in his home to understand children’s Minecraft digital making and the article’s theoretical claims are explored using empirical data. The conclusion considers the ramifications of digital making for media literacy research and practice.

 

Reference

Dezuanni, Michael. “Minecraft and Children’s Digital Making: Implications for Media Literacy Education.” Learning, Media & Technology, vol. 43, no. 3, Sept. 2018, pp. 236–49.

Conclusions

Why Where Who What and When are the five Ws that have guided my work in places of war and, yet, the ways in which these Ws intersect with one another has often come to me in retrospect: how to articulate my intention, how to use that intention to frame my positioning and my site of intervention, how to move from that choice of site toward exploring the dynamics of the victim/perpetrator/grey zone continuum in identifying co-creators and spectators, how to extrapolate from my spectators’ and co-creators’ demography in order to investigate the place for novelty in my aesthetic choices.

 

Reference

Dinesh, Nandita. “Conclusions.” Theatre and War, 1st ed., Open Book Publishers, 2016, pp. 167–88.

Tactile Places: Doing Sensory Ethnography in Sydney’s Drag King Scene

Going to drag king performances – a subcultural phenomenon where women consciously perform masculinity – has proved a popular pastime in Sydney, Australia. Established within a broader tradition of live performance culture, and part of wider urban night-time economies catering to lesbian patronage, these shows provided a highly visible spectacle that drew women to a series of events between 2002 and 2012. Sydney’s drag king scene offered women the potential for the shared pleasures of the performances, as well as the justification for mid-week nights out with friends, lovers and fellow fans. Exploring the connections between everyday forms of participation and the collective investments that establish these drag king events as intelligible social phenomenon inevitably leads to an engagement with space. By turning attention to the sensory economy circulating within scene participation, and the ethnographic research that followed it, this article explores how scene practices turn the sociality of the moment into an attachment to the venues that supported them. Contrary to the ephemerality that is thought to characterize minority cultures, I argue that forms of social engagement based on the tactility of their encounters inscribe spaces of the scene. In doing so, this article draws attention to the role the senses play – those sights, smells and sounds for participants and researchers alike – in the design and practice of cultural research.

 

Reference

Drysdale, Kerryn. “Tactile Places: Doing Sensory Ethnography in Sydney’s Drag King Scene.” Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, vol. 30, no. 2, Apr. 2016, pp. 206–17.

Experimental Ethnography Online: The Asthma Files

This essay describes The Asthma Files, an experimental, digital ethnography project structured to support a collaborative research process and new ways of presenting academic research. While examining ways in which asthma is understood, cared for and governed in varied settings, the project also examines how digital tools can be used to support new research practices, new ways of expressing ethnographic analyses and new ways of drawing readers to ethnographic work. The Asthma Files is an experiment in ethnography, and in science, health and environmental communication. The project responds to dramatic increases in asthma incidence in the USA and globally in recent decades, and to wide acknowledgement that new forms of asthma knowledges are needed. The project aims to advance understanding of the way asthma and other complex conditions can be productively engaged, leveraging ethnography, deep play with interdisciplinarity and deep respect for different kinds and forms of knowledges.

 

Reference

Fortun, Kim, Fortun, Mike, Bigras, Erik, Saheb, Tahereh, Costelloe-Kuehn, Brandon, Crowder, Jerome, . . . Kenner, Alison. (2014). Experimental Ethnography Online: The asthma files. Cultural Studies, 28(4), 632-642.

Power/Freedom on the Dark Web: A Digital Ethnography of the Dark Web Social Network

This essay is an early ethnographic exploration of the Dark Web Social Network (DWSN), a social networking site only accessible to Web browsers equipped with The Onion Router. The central claim of this essay is that the DWSN is an experiment in power/freedom, an attempt to simultaneously trace, deploy, and overcome the historical conditions in which it finds itself: the generic constraints and affordances of social networking as they have been developed over the past decade by Facebook and Twitter, and the ideological constraints and affordances of public perceptions of the dark web, which hold that the dark web is useful for both taboo activities and freedom from state oppression. I trace the DWSN’s experiment with power/freedom through three practices: anonymous/social networking, the banning of child pornography, and the productive aspects of techno-elitism. I then use these practices to specify particular forms of power/freedom on the DWSN.

 

Reference

Gehl, Robert W. “Power/Freedom on the Dark Web: A Digital Ethnography of the Dark Web Social Network.” New Media & Society, vol. 18, no. 7, Aug. 2016, pp. 1219–35

Decolonizing Documentary On-Screen and Off: Sensory Ethnography and the Aesthetics of Accountability

The article discusses the work of the Sensory Ethnography Lab (SEL), a joint venture between the Visual and Environmental Studies and Anthropology departments at Harvard University. According to the author, SEL projects embraced the spirit and practice of collaboration on all aspects of filmmaking. Documentary films including ”Sweetgrass” (2009) by Lucien Castaing-Taylor; ”Leviathan” (2012) by Véréna Paravel and J .P. Sniadecki, and ”Manakamana”(2013), by Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez are discussed.

 

Reference

Ginsburg, Faye. “Decolonizing Documentary On-Screen and Off: Sensory Ethnography and the Aesthetics of Accountability.” Film Quarterly, vol. 72, no. 1, Sept. 2018, pp. 39–49.

Performing Visual Empowerment: Norwegian Youth Culture, Languages, and Cross-Sense Communication

This article highlights how deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing people in Norway have an ability for visual languaging, building new relations, making new social order, handling the pressure of phonocentricity, establishing a peer group, and performing their visual identity in multiple ways. In a cross-field analysis of linguistics, medicine and anthropology, we explore how young people succeed in bridging the gap between users of spoken and of signed languages. By multiple video layered recordings as part of the ethnography, we display the complexities in their languaging. Our findings point to their broad use of different knowledge fields which are established from an early age.

 

Reference

Halvorsen, Rolf Piene, et al. “Performing Visual Empowerment: Norwegian Youth Culture, Languages, and Cross-Sense Communication.” Visual Anthropology, vol. 32, no. 2, Apr. 2019, pp. 145–73.

A Collaborative Methodology between Photography and Performance in Ethnographically Informed Research

This article starts from the discussions in Writing culture that provided a new perspective on ethnographic writing. The author acknowledges that there has been a proliferation of ‘sensory’ approaches in the social sciences and ethnography, and ‘ethnographic’ projects in the arts. The article explores some of the critiques that both perspectives (art and ethnography) received because of the blurred distinction between their respective methodologies and the privileging of experience over interpretation in their claims to ‘truth’. The author engages in this discussion by reconsidering the relationship between photography and ‘reality’ and repositions the role of the photographer-researcher as co-creator of ethnographic knowledge. By focusing on the study of a Danish micro-community in Argentina, she explores the possibilities and challenges of performative photography as a (collaborative) ethnographic methodology. The author discusses the critical and experimental possibilities of a performative photographic approach in ethnographically informed research, and reflects on a collaborative project that involved staged photography and dance.

 

Reference

Hamer, Carla. “A Collaborative Methodology between Photography and Performance in Ethnographically Informed Research.” Critical Arts: A South-North Journal of Cultural & Media Studies, vol. 30, no. 3, June 2016, pp. 341–56.

Teacher-Student Relationships and L2 Motivation

Positive relationships with teachers are important for students’ second language motivation. However, little is known about how interpersonal interactions stimulate motivated behavior. Drawing on studies of teacher–student relationships, theories from positive psychology, and the psychology of unconscious self-regulation, this case study examines moments of teacher–student interaction and explores influences on students’ engagement and motivation. Observations were carried out in 2 classrooms, and interviews with the focal teacher of this study and her students were conducted. Data were analyzed using a grounded theory ethnography approach. Findings indicate that moments of close personal contact and their influences may differ in emerging and mature teacher–student relationships. While in emerging relationships moments of contact can have immediate influences on engagement and motivation, in mature relationships influences on learning behavior may be less pronounced and involve unconscious motivational processes. The study’s methodological limitations are discussed and proposals are made for future ethnographic and experimental work.

 

Reference

Henery, Alastair, and Cecilia Thorsen. “Teacher-Student Relationships and L2 Motivation.” Modern Language Journal, vol. 102, no. 1, 2018 Spring 2018, pp. 218–41.

Blackboxing Whiteness’: A Study of the Networked Home in Middle-Class South Africa

This paper examines the home as networked and relational. These arrangements of space and place were investigated through a digital ethnography and critical discourse analysis of domestically focused posts by 50 Facebook users. This data was supplemented by interviews, and in-situ observations drawn from the broader sample. Facebook has opened up the private space of the home, allowing domestic space, place, and practice to gain visibility, which, when analysed in conjunction with Actor-Network Theory (ANT), illustrates the networked and relational quality of the home. The home, and the relationships between actants, reflects discourses and hierarchy. Women remain tightly bound to the home, and to postfeminist discourses of domesticity and domestopia. This paper reveals that whiteness, and in particular madamhood, is blackboxed within middle-class homes. Domestic workers employed by these households, on the other hand, were largely absent from such narratives and conversations, and were marginalised within networks.

 

Reference

Hiltermann, Jaqui. “‘Blackboxing Whiteness’: A Study of the Networked Home in Middle-Class South Africa.” Communicare, vol. 37, no. 2, Dec. 2018, pp. 107–26.

Discretions

Most ethnological research trips ended quite literally at the knowledge of the gods. Not only those of writers like Leiris and Artaud, but also the anthropological journeys of Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead to Bali and that of Maya Deren to Haiti. Film footage of rites and rituals was supposed be made at a distance, in the field. Nevertheless, an unexpected interference of cultural effects appears between the ones filming and the objects of their anthropological investigations.

 

Reference

Holl, Ute. “Discretions.” Cinema, Trance and Cybernetics, Amsterdam University Press, 2017, pp. 57–76.

Exercise Musk-OX: The Challenges of Filming a Military Expedition in Canada’s Arctic

Canada’s Arctic has always attracted explorers to its vast expanses to stake claims or to study its natural resources and its people. Motion picture film has played an important role in documenting those who have ventured to frozen lands to explore Northern regions. In films shot by either amateur or professional filmmakers, the common theme is often one of survival. This paper explores the journey of members of the British-Canadian Arctic Expedition (1936–40), and Exercise Musk-Ox (1946), who under very challenging conditions braved the elements, along with their motion picture cameras, just as many explorers who came before and after them.

 

Reference

Holloway, Caroline Forcier. “EXERCISE MUSK-OX:: THE CHALLENGES OF FILMING A MILITARY EXPEDITION IN CANADA’S ARCTIC.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 245–54.

How It Happened

Camera and filmmaker are invited into group therapy sessions in which soldiers recount, at length, the traumas they have experienced; we then look on as the same men try to adjust to normal lives that may never feel normal again. Thanks to Sniadecki’s snaking camera and Ernst Karel’s predictably ace sound design (the film begins with several minutes of avant-jazzlike rail screeching over a black screen), it’s a worthy addition to the Sensory Ethnography Lab’s deepening hard-rock catalog.

 

Reference

Hynes, Eric. “How It Happened.” Film Comment; New York, vol. 52, no. 1, Feb. 2016, pp. 20–21.

A Gentle Gaze On The Colony: Jette Bang’s Documentary Filming In Greenland 1938–9

Among a memorable series of Arctic explorers, scientists and adventurers during the past centuries, few women stand out. One exception is Jette Bang (1914–64), who produced photographic and filmic documentation of Greenland from 1937 onwards. Her extraordinary number of high-quality photographs, now available in a vast digital archive, had a profound influence upon Danish and Greenlandic perceptions of life in Greenland during and after World War II. Her early films, in contrast, were widely neglected and have only recently been made available. In particular the film material she recorded in 1938–9 in West Greenland demands further attention.

 

Reference

Jørgensen, Anne Mette. “A Gentle Gaze On The Colony: Jette Bang’s Documentary Filming In Greenland 1938–9.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 235–44.

Embodied Visual Meaning in Film

This chapter presents an embodied account of visual meaning-making in cinema. Borrowing insights from cognitive linguistics, and in particular Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT), we intend to show how film is an exemplary case of embodied, immanent meaning. What do we mean when we say that the meaning of particular visual features in film is grounded in sensory-motor experience? And what role do image schemas play in the conveyance of abstract thought in film? These are some of the questions that we are going to address in this chapter. We start our essay with a brief discussion and criticism of the traditional conceptual view of meaning according to which meaning is considered solely as a property of language. Secondly, we show how an embodied view of meaning offers an alternative to the propositional view of meaning. We conclude our contribution with an analysis of two examples of embodied visual meaning in cinema. More specifically, we demonstrate how image schemas serve as important solutions to the problem of how to represent abstract concepts in film.

 

Reference

Kravanja, Peter, and Maarten Coëgnarts. Embodied Visual Meaning in Film. 2015, pp. 63–80.

Leviathan and the Discourse of Sensory Ethnography: Spleen et idéal

This article asks about the stakes of experimental ethnography in Leviathan by analyzing the film in terms of Walter Benjamin’s concept of anthropological materialism. Taking into account the digital technologies of production, and the goals of the filmmakers as exponents of sensory ethnography, my inquiry pursues three interrelated questions: the experience of Leviathan, the humanism of Leviathan, and the text of Leviathan.

 

Reference

Russell, C. (2015). Leviathan and the Discourse of Sensory Ethnography: Spleen et idéal. Visual Anthropology Review, 31(1), 27-34.

Transmedia as Experimental Ethnography: the Exit Zero Project, Deindustrialization, and the Politics of Nostalgia: Exit Zero: on Transmedia

How might “transmedia” approaches—or working across media—fit into histories of textual and visual innovation within anthropology, and what might they contribute to the discipline in the current moment? I explore this question through the Exit Zero Project, which includes a book, documentary film, and planned interactive website that examine the impact of deindustrialization on Southeast Chicago and the relationship between industrial job loss and expanding class inequalities in the United States. While the book and film take an “autoethnographic” approach, the website is based on collaboration with a local museum. I argue that transmedia ethnography both provokes new research questions and supports a growing interest in public anthropology by offering diverse spaces for engagement with subjects and audiences. Mass hysteria in Le Roy, New York: How brain experts materialized truth and outscienced environmental inquiry Teenage schoolgirls in Le Roy, New York, captured the attention of the U.S. public in 2011 and 2012 when they developed acute motor and vocal tics. Dramatic images of the girls’ involuntary movements were briefly seen on national news and social media before clinical neurologists diagnosed the girls with “mass psychogenic illness” and required their retreat from media as part of the cure. Drawing from perspectives in medical and linguistic anthropology as well as the anthropology of expertise, we interrogate how this diagnosis, called “mass hysteria” in a previous generation of Freudian psychology, came to be favored over attribution to a potential environmental cause. Neurologists countered the evidential vagueness of environmental claims by suggesting that material proof of psychological origin could lie in fMRI data, contributing to a public narrative on female adolescent brains and rural U.S. communities that foreclosed environmental inquiry.

 

Reference

Walley, C. (2015). Transmedia as Experimental Ethnography: the Exit Zero Project, Deindustrialization, and the Politics of Nostalgia: Exit Zero: on Transmedia. American Ethnologist, 42(4), 624-639.

Ethnography Film Cinema


Director/DP Luke Lorentzen on Making Midnight Family as a Solo Shooter (with Two Cameras)

In Mexico City, there are only 45 publicly operated ambulances for a population of nine-million-plus, creating a need filled by private labor. Luke Lorentzen, whose first feature New York Cuts premiered at IDFA in 2015, embedded himself with one privately operated ambulance run as a family business, tagging along night after night. Operating as his own shooter for Midnight Family, Lorentzen’s sophomore feature is a formally controlled, sympathetically embedded portrait of multiple instances of economic inequity (with car chases!). Via email, the director/DP spoke to the challenges of operating two cameras as a solo shooter, depending on Mexico City’s existing nighttime light and using only one prime lens.

 

Reference

“Director/DP Luke Lorentzen on Making Midnight Family as a Solo Shooter (with Two Cameras).” Filmmaker Magazine, https://filmmakermagazine.com/106823-director-dp-luke-lorentzen-on-making-midnight-family-as-a-solo-shooter-with-two-cameras/.

Weeping Men and Singing Women: Voices in Finnish Documentaries

This article focuses on voices that are heard in Finnish documentaries. In this context, the concept of voice indicates different points of view and expressions which are present in a film. In addition to the voice of the film-maker, the voices of subjects comprise essential components of documentaries. Voices are created in the complicated film-making process. In a way, this consists of a game between intentions, plans and openness, a tension between the financing institutions and the film-maker’s ideals of freedom. These tensions and games imply that several voices can find their ways into finalised films: for instance, the voices of financiers and institutions, but also the voices of history and myths. Because several voices appear in documentary films and impact the film-making process at the same time, documentary films can be considered through the metaphor of choric expression. The concept of Bakhtinian polyphony is used to understand the present state of the documentary film in general and Finnish documentary film in particular.

 

Reference

Aaltonen, J. (2016). Weeping Men and Singing Women: Voices in Finnish Documentaries. Studies in Documentary Film, 10(2), 169-182.

Ethnographic Filmmaking as Narrative Capital Enhancement Among Atauro Diverwomen: A Theoretical Exploration

This article reports on a project involving the development and release of an ethnographic film about the women divers of Atauro Island, Timor-Leste, and suggests a theoretical framework to interpret its outcomes. It describes the project aims and the filmmaking process, and reports on its results. In doing so, the paper explores the potential use of an agent-based concept of narrative capital focused on collective agents. The article suggests that the ideas of narrative capital and transformations of capital by collective agents can provide a valuable interpretative framework for the design, implementation, and analyses of results of development interventions involving filmmaking.

 

Reference

Alonso-Población, E., Fidalgo-Castro, A., & Palazón-Monforte, D. (2016). Ethnographic Filmmaking as Narrative Capital Enhancement Among Atauro Diverwomen: A Theoretical Exploration. Development in Practice, 26(3), 262-271.

Inclusive Sensory Ethnography: Studying New Media and Neurodiversity in Everyday Life

Media and communication studies has recently begun to ethnographically explore the sensory dimensions of how individuals experience and perceive technology. This turn toward the sensorial has centered primarily on the five “external” senses (sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste) and less so on “internal” vestibular and proprioceptive systems that concern bodily spatial positioning. I propose inclusive sensory ethnography to account for greater neurodiversity in how humans process sensory input, as well as a fuller range of multi-sensory encounters with new media. I ground this conceptualization in a qualitative study of young children on the autism spectrum with difficulties processing sensory information and their social engagements with print, screen, and interactive media. Inclusive sensory ethnography reveals novel understandings of how the internal senses shape and are shaped by mediated relationships, practices, and intimacies. I discuss further implications for how disability and inclusive sensory ethnography can enrich the study of everyday technology use.

 

Reference

Alper, Meryl. “Inclusive Sensory Ethnography: Studying New Media and Neurodiversity in Everyday Life.” New Media & Society, vol. 20, no. 10, Oct. 2018, pp. 3560–79

Ethnographic Films: Supporting Visual Assignments

Earlier this spring, our Center supported a graduate course in ethnographic research methods. The students were assigned to make short ethnographic digital films informed by a theory they had encountered in the course. The instructor wanted to introduce them to current film projects that embrace more experimental approaches to work in the discipline. I was intrigued by this opportunity to address visual argument beyond the familiar topics of slide design, poster design, and data presentation; ours is a relatively new center (we opened in 2012) and supporting visual communication is an important part of our mission…

 

Reference

Ambrose, Josh. “Ethnographic Films: Supporting Visual Assignments.” Connecting Writing Centers Across Borders (CWCAB), 3 Feb. 2016, https://www.wlnjournal.org/blog/2016/02/ethnographic-films-a-different-kind-of-workshop/.

Filming Fore, Shooting Scientists: Medical Research, Experimental Filmmaking, and Documentary Cinema

After World War II the research film increasingly became instrumental in medical science and cultural anthropology, especially in the recording and analysis of non-recurring events in isolated or “primitive” communities. Ambitiously, Carleton Gajdusek and Richard Sorenson in the 1960s sought to accumulate a global film archive of such communities, focusing on clinical disorders, such as kuru among the Fore people of New Guinea, and patterns of child health and development. Ostensibly objective, and certainly distancing, the camera also was for them a desiring machine, thus relating their archival project to the contemporary experimental films of Warhol in New York. Comparison with associated documentary film, with its emphasis on editorial selection, thematic coherence and narrative closure, reveals differences in how filmic investigators engage with their subjects, as well as discordances in valuation and ethics.

 

Reference

Anderson, Warwick. “Filming Fore, Shooting Scientists: Medical Research, Experimental Filmmaking, and Documentary Cinema.” Visual Anthropology, vol. 32, no. 2, Mar. 2019, pp. 109–27.

On the Matter of Film

As film making and viewing increasingly become identified with digital media — storage in bits and invisible streams that manifest as cinematic experiences in our classrooms, theaters and living rooms — it is easy to lose track of the concrete materials, processes and spaces that make these viewing experiences possible. Easy, that is, unless your job requires exactly that, keeping track of the many and varied materials that exist behind the scenes of a large and growing film catalog. This has been one aspect of my job since 2011, when I started at Documentary Educational Resources (DER), one of the most historically important resources for ethnographic film in the world today. I started with the belief that my role would be to bring DER into the age of digital, networked media, and I was quickly drawn into another world entirely. It is a world of 16 mm and 35 mm film elements in cans — camera originals, preprint materials and projection-ready distribution prints — sound recordings, production logs, journals and tape masters in every format imaginable.

 

Reference

Apley, A. (2017). On the Matter of Film. Anthropology Now, 9(2), 87-101.

Jean Rouch’s Moi, Un Noir in the French New Wave

This article highlights the significance of Jean Rouch’s experimental ethnographic film Moi, un Noir (1958) in the genesis of the quintessential New Wave film, À bout de souffle (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960), taking seriously the idea expressed by several critics of the time that À bout de souffle was an ethnography of French youth. Following a close reading of Moi, un Noir and comparative readings of Moi, un Noir, À bout de souffle, and their French reception, the author briefly highlights Rouch’s influence on the other key film of the New Wave, Les 400 coups (François Truffaut, 1959). Rouch’s influence on the two emblematic films of the New Wave is particularly significant in light of his own turn, after years filming in France’s sub-Saharan African colonies, to making several films in metropolitan France. The central aim of this article is to elucidate the role of Rouch in the New Wave. An ancillary aim is to show that Moi, un Noir and À bout de souffle mark two key points in a striking shift in the cutting-edge French cinema of the late 1950s and 1960s: a growing inclination to survey metropolitan France as a suddenly exotic space, and to conceive of the French as viable ethnographic subjects.

 

Reference

Astourian, Laure. “Jean Rouch’s Moi, Un Noir in the French New Wave.” Studies in French Cinema, vol. 18, no. 3, July 2018, pp. 252–66.

Unknown Continents: A Conversation with Authors Patricia Zimmermann and Scott MacDonald

More than an anniversary reflection, The Flaherty is an opportunity to revisit the critical debates that shaped film at some of the most crucial junctures of its history. As seen in the history of the organization, and often as a direct result of the seminar itself, the past 60 years were the ones in which documentary, avant-garde, and independent film emerged as powerful cultural forces in their own right. Outside of commercial cinema, these types of films were undoubtedly new and provocative—little wonder that they generated such heated discussions. In today’s embattled moment, when the forms and institutions of cinema have profoundly changed, and when the call for the arts to respond to the troubled political landscape has grown louder and more urgent, The Flaherty allows the reader to reconsider the struggles of the past: to follow, to learn from, and perhaps, to be newly inspired by them.

 

Reference

Baer, Genevieve. “Unknown Continents: A Conversation with Authors Patricia Zimmermann and Scott MacDonald.” Film Quarterly, 18 Sept. 2017, https://filmquarterly.org/2017/09/18/unknown-continents-a-conversation-with-authors-patricia-zimmermann-and-scott-macdonald/.

Archiveology

Nicholas Baer interviews Catherine Russell about her new book Archiveology: Walter Benjamin and Archival Film Practices.

 

Reference

Baer, Nicholas. “Archiveology.” Film Quarterly, 1 Mar. 2018, https://filmquarterly.org/2018/03/01/archiveology/.

An Ecology of Mind

 ‘An Ecology of Mind’ is a filmic portrait of anthropologist, biologist, and psychotherapist Gregory Bateson. Bateson believed that, ‘The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between the way nature works and the way people think.’ Seen through the relationship between father and daughter, this documentary is an invitation into ‘systems thinking’ and interrelationships in the natural world. ‘Looking at what holds systems together is a radical step toward sewing the world back together, from the inside.’

 

Reference

Bateson, N., & Borer, M. (Producers), & Bateson, N. (Director). (2010). An Ecology of Mind [Motion Picture]. United States: The Impact Media Group.

Documentary Film as Collaborative Ethnography: Using a Thirdspace Lens to Explore Community and Race

The civil rights movement in the USA offers sites of struggle for access, equality, and power related to racialised spaces. This article discusses documentary film’s potential to journey into and assess this significant social movement through a Thirdspace perspective, motivated by the documentary film Tampa Technique: Rise, Demise, and Remembrance of Central Avenue and guided by a collaborative ethnographic process. Central Avenue, a primarily black-owned business district that thrived as a physical space in Tampa, Florida, until 1974, is the impetus to utilise Thirdspace. A redesigned city park, re-opened in 2016, memorialises the community to form a new racialised identity. Connecting past and present, this offers an intervening space of innovative possibility to explore hope and despair, collaboration and contestation, and the lived and imagined realities of the community. Through the documentary film, Central Avenue serves as a space to analyse civil rights locally and emerges as a symbolic battlefield of historical and social forces connected to segregation. Documentary film as visual art provides a vehicle to understand a racialised community through a collective lens of place, space, and race, and to recreate Central Avenue as a thematic thread of black life in Tampa, produced through a trialectic Thirdspace approach.

 

Reference

Bell, T. (2018). Documentary Film as Collaborative Ethnography: Using a Thirdspace Lens to Explore Community and Race. Critical Arts, 32(5-6), 17-34.

Martha of the North and Nunavik Narratives of Survivance

The narratives surrounding the history of the Canadian Inuit and their relationship to the “white man” differs somewhat from ones about the First Nations situated south of the Arctic circle, mainly because the colonization process occurred much later for the Inuit. Although European explorers mention brief and sporadic encounters with the Baffin Island people as early as the sixteenth century, it is not until the fur-trading period of the twentieth century, and more specifically because of a newfound interest in the Far North during World War II concerning questions about sovereignty over the land, that the Inuit way of life…

 

Reference

Bertrand, Karine. “Martha of the North and Nunavik Narratives of Survivance.” Arctic Cinemas and the Documentary Ethos, edited by Lilya Kaganovsky et al., Indiana University Press, 2019, pp. 289–301.

Abandoned Land

Five years after the Fukushima nuclear power plant catastrophe, there are still a few individuals living in the evacuated areas. This documentary lets us meet some of the people whose lives, though marked by danger, risk and the continuous work of decontamination, still demonstrates a peaceful and quiet existence on their beloved land. From an elderly couple who eats vegetables from their own garden, seemingly unconcerned with levels of radiation, to the famous “last man of Fukushima” who stayed behind to feed the abandoned animals, their life stories remind us that sometimes a piece of land is our strongest connection in this world.

 

Reference

Bibas, C. (Producer), & Laurent, G. (Director). (2016). Abandoned Land [Motion Picture]. Belgium: CVB.

Cinema of Emancipation and Zacharias Kunuk’s Atanarjuat: the Fast Runner

Set in Igloolik in Canada’s Eastern Arctic over 1,000 years ago and performed in the Inuit language Inuktitut, Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, directed by Zacharias Kunuk, is widely celebrated as a landmark in Indigenous film production in North America and elsewhere. The film was produced by Igloolik Isuma Productions, the first independent Inuit production company which was co-founded by Kunuk, Paul Apak Angilirq and the cinematographer of the film and one of the few non-Inuit crew members Norman Cohn.

 

Reference

Bohr, Marco. “Cinema of Emancipation and Zacharias Kunuk’s Atanarjuat: the Fast Runner.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 84–96.

The Flesh of The Perceptible’: The New Materialism of Leviathan

This article seeks to entangle two current philosophic praxes: New Materialism, and Sensory Ethnography. Jane Bennett has become one of New Materialism’s most prominent proponents since the release of her now-seminal text, Vibrant Matter in 2010. Due to the varied ground upon which New Materialism stands (often conflated with object-oriented ontology, post-humanism, and other general turns within nonhumanism), Bennett’s work will be looked at idiosyncratically, then pushed into the realm of the cinematic via an analysis of the documentary, Leviathan. Directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel, this film was among the first exemplary works to emerge from the Sensory Ethnography Lab, based at Harvard University. In striving for a revitalization of ethnographic film practices, the Lab aligns itself with similarly non-anthropocentric, and nondiscursive, aspects of experience to the New Materialism of Jane Bennett. By placing these two contemporary camps into conversation, this article intends to reposition them both: New Materialism as a vehicle for the Sensory Ethnographic, and the SEL as an exhibition of the kind of world Bennett’s philosophy envisages. The article concludes with an assessment of the political and eco-political critiques and ramifications surrounding these works.

 

Reference

Bowens, Max. “‘The Flesh of The Perceptible’: The New Materialism of Leviathan.” Film-Philosophy, vol. 22, no. 3, Oct. 2018, pp. 428–47.

Embrace of the Serpent

The story of the relationship between Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and last survivor of his people, and two scientists who work together over the course of forty years to search the Amazon for a sacred healing plant.

 

Reference

Bravo, R., & Cespedes, M. (Producers), & Guerra, C. (Director). (2015). Embrace of the Serpent [Motion Picture]. United Kingdom: Buffalo Films.

‘Who Were We? And What Happened to Us?’: Inuit Memory and Arctic Futures in Igloolik Isuma Film and Video

When Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner burst onto the international film scene in 2001 with its Camera d’Or win for director Zacharias Kunuk at Cannes, attention was suddenly focused on a small Inuit production company in the Canadian Eastern Arctic. Igloolik Isuma Productions, the world’s first majority Inuit-owned independent film and video production company, was incorporated in 1990 and forced into bankruptcy in 2011. While to national and global audiences it may have seemed that Atanarjuat appeared from nowhere, the film was the cumulative result of Isuma’s ten years of community-based film and video production in the Inuktitut language.

 

Reference

Bredin, Marian. “‘Who Were We? And What Happened to Us?’: Inuit Memory and Arctic Futures in Igloolik Isuma Film and Video.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 33–44.

Keep the River on Your Right

In 1955, while a Fulbright scholar, a Manhattan painter named Tobias Schneebaum spent seven months in the Amazon basin with the Harakambut. When he returned to the US, he could no longer paint. What happened? Nearly 45 years later, filmmakers want Tobias, now 78 and suffering from Parkinson’s, to return to Peru. He refuses but allows that he will revisit the Asmat in New Guinea where he spent an idyllic time years before. That trip goes well, including a serendipitous meeting with Aipit, an aging native and once Tobias’ friend and lover. Tobias then agrees to go to Peru to look for the people whom he joined on a murderous raiding party. The scars of war remain as does fear.

 

Reference

Broderick, P. (Producer), & Shapiro, D., & Shapiro, G. L. (Directors). (2000). Keep the River on Your Right [Motion Picture]. United States: Lifer Films.

Sensuous Ethnography

Brunner-Sung features filmmaker Chick Strand. Sensuous, deeply felt, rigorous, uncompromising — the work of Strand belongs in the canon of avant-garde cinema alongside that of her contemporaries Stan Brakhage and Bruces Baillie. As co-founder with Baillie of the floating cinematheque’ Canyon Cinema in 1961, Strand helped create an audience for experimental filmmakers, which she maintained over 24 years as a professor in Los Angeles. Her own mastery of poetic abstraction, found footage and lyrical ethnography make her filmography one of the most dynamic and distinctive of an era. An anthropology student who went onto study ethnographic film, Strand is most often associated with work documenting the people she encountered in Mexico, in and around the town of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato. For years she spent her summers there, always with a 16 mm camera in hand: among the many portraits she created before her death in 2009 are Anselmo (1967), Woman of a Thousand Fires (1978), Fake Fruit Factory (1986) and Senora con flores (1995/2011). The 1971 film Mosori Monika, which considers the relationship between missionaries and native Waraos in Venezuela, exemplifies Strand’s signature, intimate style: caressing movements and features in close-up, pulling viewers in with a telescoped lens, incorporating the subject’s thoughts via voiceover narration.

 

Reference

Brunner-Sung, Vera. “Sensuous Ethnography.” Sight and Sound; London, Dec. 2015, 53.

Forest of Bliss: Sensory Experience and Ethnographic Film

Forest of Bliss (1986) is a film that explores the ancient Indian city of Benares, focusing on both funeral and religious practices. The viewer comes to know the city through the eyes of ethnographic filmmaker Robert Gardner. He describes it using complex editing that allows this documentary to be included in the subgenre of city symphony. The film is distinguished both by its dense network of visual and aural symbols with which the cycle of death and regeneration is represented and by its ability to communicate the sensory experience of being there.

 

Reference

Bucci, Mauro. “Forest of Bliss: Sensory Experience and Ethnographic Film.” Visual Ethnography, vol. 1, no. 1, Feb. 2015

The First Ethnographic Documentary? Luiz Thomaz Reis, the Rondon Commission and the Making of Rituais e Festas Borôro (1917)

Although rarely mentioned in English-language texts, Rituais de Festas Borôro has long been acknowledged as a masterpiece of early ethnographic film in the French and Brazilian literature. Shot in 1916 by a Brazilian army officer, Luiz Thomaz Reis, and released in 1917 , the film is mainly about the funeral ceremony of the Bororo, an indigenous people of Central Brazil. Here we contrast this work with other ethnographic films of the period and suggest that it has a strong claim to be seen as the first ethnographic documentary in the modern sense of the term. We also consider the political circumstances that led to the filming in this particular form, its status as an ethnographic account of the funeral, and its place in the personal filmography of Luiz Thomaz Reis.

 

Reference

Caiuby Novaes, S., Cunha, E., & Henley, P. (2017). The First Ethnographic Documentary? Luiz Thomaz Reis, the Rondon Commission and the Making of Rituais e Festas Borôro (1917). Visual Anthropology, 30(2), 105-146.

Latin American Ethnographic Cinema: Between Exploration and Denunciation

Between the decades of 1950 and 1970, a large number of ethnographic documentary films were made in Latin America. At a time when anthropological studies were being transformed and documentary filmmaking underwent a revolution because of new technologies, the films presented themselves as an original product of said cultural, scientific and cinematic changes. This article will study the most emblematic films and the filmmakers with the most extensive filmographies: Humberto Mauro (Brazil), Jorge Ruiz (Bolivia), Manuel Chambi (Peru), Sergio Bravo (Chile), Jorge Prelorán (Argentina), Margot Benacerraf (Venezuela), and Rolf Blomberg (Ecuador), among others. The aim of this article is to inquire into the filmographies and career trajectories of said directors in order to become acquainted with their vision on the popular cultures they documented spanning from the Andes to the coast and from the jungle to the countryside. This article thus intends to present this as the first appearance of a ‘common feeling’ among Latin American filmmakers.

 

Reference

Campo, J. (2019). Latin American Ethnographic Cinema: Between Exploration and Denunciation. Studies in Documentary Film, 13(2), 169-185.

Breaking Into Transgender Life: Transgender Audiences’ Experiences With ‘First of Its Kind’ Visibility in Popular Media

Drawing from ethnographic fieldwork with transgender individuals and communities, this article explores transgender audiences’ interactions with what I call ‘breakout texts,’ media that portray ‘first of its kind’ representation. I analyze the films Boys Don’t Cry (1999) and TransAmerica (2005) as transgender breakout texts, or media that break into the cultural mainstream, break with historical representational paradigms, and break into the everyday life of viewers. Focusing mainly on this last break, I examine how transgender audiences discern breakout texts through a paradigm of mediatized ‘linked fate’ (Dawson, 1994); how audiences move from ‘cultural readers’ (Bobo, 1988) to cultural interpreters as a result of breakout texts’ cultural popularity; and how audiences engage in ‘queer identity work’ (Gray, 2009) with breakout texts.

 

Reference

Cavalcante, Andre. “Breaking Into Transgender Life: Transgender Audiences’ Experiences With ‘First of Its Kind’ Visibility in Popular Media.” Communication, Culture & Critique, vol. 10, no. 3, Sept. 2017, pp. 538–55.

Pikisi Kwaiyai! (Pictures Tonight!): the Screening and Reception of Ethnographic Film in the Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea

Ethnographic films hold great historical value for the communities in which they were filmed, yet people in source communities often lack access to them. Visitors engaging in ‘visual repatriation’ of ethnographic film can enrich both sides of the ethnographic exchange. I review my experiences screening ethnographic films with Trobriand Islanders, their reactions, and the various ways in which local communities regain ownership of these films, including re-narration and renaming. My findings reiterate how source communities’ reception of, and uses for, ethnographic film can sharply differ from the filmmakers’ original agenda.

 

Reference

Connelly, A. (2016). Pikisi Kwaiyai! (Pictures Tonight!): the Screening and Reception of Ethnographic Film in the Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea. The Australian Journal of Anthropology, 27(1), 3-29.

Introduction

It is estimated that there are more than 100,000 islands in the world. The study of these islands is found predominantly within the sciences and social sciences- in disciplines such as Geography, Geology, Zoology, Ethnography, Anthropology, Sociology, Politics and International Relations-and with often a focus on regions such as the Pacific, Southeast Asia, or the Caribbean. With so much of the world’s populations found on islands-from Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines and Hong Kong to Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Ireland and the United Kingdom-it is unsurprising that cinema has repeatedly turned to island life as a subject. Yet, film studies has largely ignored the geographical, spatial, and cultural significance of the many island-set movies. This special issue of Post Script focuses on the theme of ‘Islands and Film’ and moves beyond the studies of national cinemas that have been dominating the understandings of regional film representations.

 

Reference

Conrich, Ian, et al. “Introduction.” Post Script; Commerce, vol. 37, no. 2/3, Winter-Summer 2018, pp. 3-4, I.

Interview with Rick Prelinger

Rick Prelinger wears many hats: he is an archivist and an activist, a writer and a filmmaker; he has preserved the eccentricities and banalities of American cultural heritage and projected them back to the world via both Open Access digital repositories and carefully curated programs of ephemeral and orphaned films. He is perhaps best known as the founder of the Prelinger Archives, a collection of about 60,000 industrial, advertising, educational, and amateur films, which encourage and facilitate not only preservation, but appropriation by allowing free access, downloading and reuse of its materials.

 

Reference

Cook, Sophie, et al. “Interview with Rick Prelinger.” Synoptique, vol. 4, no. 1, 2015, p. 27.

Gardening Metadata in the New Media Ecology: A Manifesto (of Sorts) for Ethnographic Film

Over the last 15 years, the proliferation of digital technologies has transformed the processes of production, distribution, and consumption for all types of media, from the popular culture industries (television, popular music, movies) to personal communication (mobile devices, social media) and everything in between. Digital technologies have radically altered the material conditions of production and distribution for all cinema but especially for the low‐budget works with one‐ or two‐person crews that continue to be the norm in ethnographic film today. Together, the technoeconomic and cultural changes are of such scope and magnitude that they constitute a whole new media ecology to which ethnographic film, like other forms of cultural production, must adapt if it is to remain relevant, accessible, and identifiable amid the proliferation of channels and signals in the information age. How will a genre that developed in the 20th century within a system of craft production and institutional supports fare in this far more fluid, dynamic, decentralized, and individualized media ecology? What can be done to ensure both continuity and new growth for ethnographic film as a practice and discourse community? These are the questions that animate my treatise, which I cast as a manifesto of sorts because it champions the gardening of metadata as one route to extending the life and legacy of ethnographic cinema. Before defining the terms and concepts just deployed, let me begin with a parable to illustrate their significance in these times of profound and rapid transition that present both tantalizing possibilities and serious challenges for ethnographic film.

 

Reference

Cool, J. (2014). Gardening Metadata in the New Media Ecology: A Manifesto (of Sorts) for Ethnographic Film. American Anthropologist, 116(1), 173-178.

Working Out the Kinks: Anonymous Subjects in Ethnographic Film

Both authors were involved with the making of This Might Not Be Your Kink from the project’s start, though in very different roles. Stephanie is the filmmaker who researched and produced the 26-minute film as her Master’s thesis in visual anthropology (MVA) at the University of Southern California. Jennifer is the faculty member who teaches the media production classes in which students such as Stephanie undertake thesis projects, researching, writing, shooting and editing an ethnographic film in the span of one calendar year. We became co-authors because we wanted to share insights and stories encountered in the process of making/mentoring this film. Yet, as student (maker) and teacher (mentor), our perspectives differ and we wanted a way to convey those differences where they are illuminating. Our solution has been to adopt a familiar documentary format, more easily imagined for the screen than the page. Thus, we invite readers to imagine this as the beginning of a “making of” documentary about the project, both the film and its research. Stephanie, the ethnographer-filmmaker, appears in interviews and voiceover. Her first person view is represented on the page in excerpts from recorded conversations, which were transcribed, as ethnographic interviews usually are. Jennifer is the narrator who connects and contextualizes the documentary, both as a host and as someone who witnessed the project through all stages of research and production.

 

Reference

Cool, J., & Mulcihy, S. (2015). Working Out the Kinks: Anonymous Subjects in Ethnographic Film. Anthropology Now, 7(2), 69-79.

Contesting Kastom: Moments of Cultural Critique in the Reef Islands Ethnographic Film Project

Based on the Reef Islands Ethnographic Film Project (Solomon Islands), this article examines ways in which cultural critique emerges in a long-term research and film project. The focus is on the notion of kastom, widespread in Melanesia, and often described as “traditional” culture or cultural heritage. As the article shows, this is on the one hand too simplistic and, on the other, that the camera may not only help show this but also contribute to forms of cultural critique by, for example, serving as a context-triggering device. Cultural critique may thus also become kastom critique, unsettling both Western and indigenous epistemology.

 

Reference

Crawford, P. (2018). Contesting Kastom: Moments of Cultural Critique in the Reef Islands Ethnographic Film Project. Visual Anthropology, 31(4-5), 408-425.

American Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary: The Cambridge Turn/Avant-Doc: Intersections of Documentary & Avant-Garde Cinema

While he acknowledges that documentary and avant-garde have co-existed in cinema from the start (from Eadweard Muybridge’s and Étienne-Jules Marey’s protocinematic visual studies of animal motion to city symphonies to visual experimentations by Joris Ivens and many others), he champions the development of lightweight cameras and portable audio equipment in the 1950s as an opportunity for both cinéma-vérité innovation and the expansion of avant-garde movements.

 

Reference

Cummings, Doug. “American Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary: The Cambridge Turn/Avant-Doc: Intersections of Documentary & Avant-Garde Cinema.” The Spectator; Los Angeles, Fall 2016

Embodying Texts and Tradition: Ethnographic Film in a South Indian Advaita Vedānta Gurukulam

This article draws on theories of phenomenology, visual anthropology, and embodiment to explore Advaita Vedānta’s sensorial and embodied modes of praxis. It interweaves two threads based on a case study of the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, an Advaita Vedānta institute in Tamil Nadu, India: (1) an ethnographic analysis of the intersections of textual study, religious praxis, and social-environmental context; and (2) the ways these intersections are grounded in Advaita Vedānta’s source texts. This article focuses on the unique potential of experiential sensory-ethnographic film for revealing these intersections and argues that such films are uniquely capable of providing viewers phenomenological and sensorial insights into individual subjectivities within religious praxis. It further probes how the Advaitin follows a roadmap of metaphysical models, ritual praxis, and receiving a teacher’s textual performance. This process reformulates bodies and identities towards the nondualistic through an interiorization of texts and is essential for remembering and transmitting the tradition.

 

Reference

Dalal, N. (2019). Embodying Texts and Tradition: Ethnographic Film in a South Indian Advaita Vedānta Gurukulam. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 87(1), 81-121.

Chronicle of a Summer

Real-life individuals discuss topics on society, happiness in the working class among others and with those testimonies the filmmakers create fictional moments based on their interviews. Later on, the individuals discuss the images created with their own words and see if the movie obtained their level of reality.

 

Reference

Dauman, A. (Producer), & Rouche, J., & Morin, E. (Directors). (1961). Chronicle of a Summer [Motion Picture]. France: Argos Films.

Ethnographic Film’s Relation to African Cinema: Safi Faye and Jean Rouch

Critical reading on the Senegalese filmmaker Safi Faye is scarce, on her embodiment of different shifts in ethnographic film or on her relationship with Jean Rouch’s work; but her oeuvre is now seen as an important case in the complex relationship between African cinema and ethnography. Safi Faye pioneered in two important respects. First, after being filmed by Rouch and so participating in his ethnographic method, she became an ethnographic filmmaker herself, and her insider position as a filmmaker in her own Serer community employs an observational style. Comparing their respective film styles reveals the questions of alterity, which inevitably remain at the center of representation. Secondly, her last film [Mossane, 1996] already exemplified the move from ethnographic cinema to fiction. In this film about a girl who resists her parents’ will, Safi Faye challenges the “ethnologizing gaze” on Africa while remaining embedded in her culture. She thereby forces another look at “African cinemas” in their creative contexts and their theoretical implications for media ethnography.

 

Reference

De Groof, M. (2018). Ethnographic Film’s Relation to African Cinema: Safi Faye and Jean Rouch. Visual Anthropology, 31(4-5), 426-444.

Do We Even Need to Define Ethnographic Film?

Before this year I never felt the need to come up with a clear definition for what counts as an “ethnographic film.” Constructing better pigeonholes only seems to be of use to the gatekeepers who get to decide which films count and which do not. I still think that’s true, but this year I became one of those gatekeepers! As programmer for the 2017 Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival I suddenly found myself needing to articulate some kind of working definition that could be communicated to filmmakers, distributors, festival judges, etc. so that everyone understood what did or did not count as an “ethnographic film” for the purpose of this festival. I failed.

 

Reference

Do We Even Need to Define Ethnographic Film? | Savage Minds. /2017/07/20/do-we-even-need-to-define-ethnographic-film/.

New Directors/New Films 2019 Critic’s Notebook: The Chambermaid, Midnight Family, Honeyland

Labor was a theme binding many selections at this year’s New Directors/New Films, which concluded this past weekend at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art. That feels timely, in the wake of the success enjoyed and debates sparked by Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, about a loyal mestiza housekeeper and nanny caring for a well-off Mexico City family, and the high-profile arrival in the U.S. House of Representatives of progressive firebrand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a proud former waitress whose working class roots have rattled the Fox News crowd. Not that world cinema attends to trending topics, but surely film curators do, and for American audiences right now such films can provoke something more meaningful than the pro-wrestling-level tirades that pass for social discourse in the national news media.

 

Reference

Dollar, Steve. “New Directors/New Films 2019 Critic’s Notebook: The Chambermaid, Midnight Family, Honeyland.” Filmmaker Magazine, https://filmmakermagazine.com/107357-new-directors-new-films-2019-critics-notebook-the-chambermaid-midnight-family-honeyland/.

Drawing-Writing Culture: The Truth-Fiction Spectrum of an Ethno-Graphic Novel on the Sri Lankan Civil War and Migration

With our focus on an “ethno-graphic novel” on the Sri Lankan civil war and the forcible displacement and migration of Tamil survivors, we make two main propositions while reflecting on the “graphic narrative turn” that has emerged in anthropology in recent years. First, we inscribe drawing into the “writing of cultures” where words have held a superior status in ethnographic representations. Rather than seeing drawings as perceptive tools for recording scenes in fieldwork alone, we extend them to a representational practice where they can have a deep, intricate, and equivalent entanglement with words to create synchronous affective intensities among a larger audience. Our second proposal follows Jean Rouch on cinéma vérité to interrogate assumptions about truth and fiction as portrayed by film representations. We propose a theory and practice for graphic novel production that we have termed vérités graphiques (literally, graphic realities). This describes the collaborative and interactive engagement with people’s contributions and views, and their distillation and fictionalization through the ethno-graphic form. We diverge from cinéma vérité, however, by highlighting a truth-fiction spectrum that further challenges the presumed objectivity of what is seen, experienced, co-created, and revealed.

 

Reference

Dix, Benjamin, and Raminder Kaur. “Drawing-Writing Culture: The Truth-Fiction Spectrum of an Ethno-Graphic Novel on the Sri Lankan Civil War and Migration.” Visual Anthropology Review, vol. 35, no. 1, 2019, pp. 76–111.

Push It Along: On Not Making an Ethnographic Film in Baltimore

Perhaps the most demonized group following the uprising that occurred after the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore were the youth of the city. As ethnographers working in the same neighborhoods where the Baltimore Uprising took place, we debated the representations we would make, cognizant that, in an atmosphere of both overt and covert racism, any representation we produced would be subject to political appropriation from the same mass media we were criticizing. However, we were not the only actors in Baltimore’s representational field, and, instead of making our own ethnographic films, we began to look to the representations of the city produced by the youth who were directly impacted by the structural forces that precipitated the uprising. In doing so, we are advocating anthropologists on certain occasions to “push it along,” or in other words, speak alongside our collaborators to ascertain a more nuanced vision of events through a networked anthropology.

 

Reference

Durington, M., Collins, S., Randolph, N., & Young, L. (2017). Push It Along: On Not Making an Ethnographic Film in Baltimore. Transforming Anthropology, 25(1), 23-34.

Golden Dawn Girls

The key male members of the far-right political party Golden Dawn are imprisoned accused of carrying out organized criminal activity. To maintain Golden Dawn’s position as the fifth largest political party in Greece, their daughters, wives and mothers step up to the task of leading the party through the upcoming elections. As the elections and trial unfold, the Norwegian film crew gets access to secret chambers and witness the family dynamics of one of Europe’s most notorious nationalist parties. This documentary exposes the mindset, values and personalities of the people on the front lines of modern nationalism. What happened to Greece? This is filmmaker Håvard Bustnes’ impression of this disturbing documentary. In recent years, Greece – with its sunny beaches and friendly people has been overshadowed by political ideologies that are close to Nazism.

 

Reference

Falch, C. (Producer), & Bustnes, H. (Director). (2017). Golden Dawn Girls [Motion Picture]. Norway: UpNorth Film.

Forest of Bliss

An atypical documentary about customs concerning death in Benares, India. Gardner’s“impressionistic travelogue” is virtually free of commentary and constant dialogue. His camera observes the rituals along the Ganges riverbank, where families mourn their dead while, nearby, dogs chew on floating corpses. Often labeled an ethnographic filmmaker, Gardner worked at Harvard University as the director of the Film Study Center from 1956 to 1997, while making films that investigated subjects like the Kwakiuti people of the Pacific Northwest and the Hamer tribe of Ethiopia.

 

Reference

Falch, C. (Producer), & Gardner, R. (Director). (1986). Forest of Bliss [Motion Picture]. United States: Film Study Center.

Subjective Voice and Ethnographic Presence. Some Notes About Direct Cinema and Visual Ethnography in a Historic-Anthropological Perspective

Through the analysis of some case studies, this essay tries to accomplish an exploratory reflection about long term outcomes of the appearance of synchronous sound in documentary film, in relation with ethnographic documentary practices and the ways in which the entrance of sensory presence of the Other could allow the built of digital documentary participative and non-linear objects.

 

Reference

Felice Tiragallo. (2015). Subjective Voice and Ethnographic Presence. Some Notes About Direct Cinema and Visual Ethnography in a Historic-Anthropological Perspective. Medea, 1(1), Medea, 01 July 2015, Vol.1(1).

Enactive Filmmaking: Rethinking Ethnographic Cinema in the First Person

In this article, I revisit the concept of ethnographic filmmaking in the first person, reviewing first the different interpretations of the first person in documentary filmmaking and then proposing an approach that stresses interaction and intersubjectivity. I term this approach enactive filmmaking, drawing inspiration from the films of Jean Rouch and the thought of cognitive scientist Francisco Varela. I discuss enactive filmmaking’s interconnected aspects of sensory evocation, collaborative methods, and performativity as applied to the making of my documentary Kalanda–The Knowledge of the Bush, arguing for films in the first person in which the filmmaker provokes revelatory performances and is deeply changed by the experience of filming.

 

Reference

Ferrarini, L. (2017). Enactive Filmmaking: Rethinking Ethnographic Cinema in the First Person. Visual Anthropology Review, 33(2), 130-140.

Robinson in Space

Robinson is commissioned to investigate the unspecified “problem of England.” The narrator describes his seven excursions, with the unseen Robinson, around the country. They mainly concentrate on ports, power stations, prisons, and manufacturing plants, but they also bring in various literary connections, as well as a few conventional landscapes.

 

Reference

Gibson, B. (Producer), & Keiller, R. (Director). (1997). Robinson in space [Motion Picture]. United Kingdom: British Broadcasting Corporation.

Human

What is it that makes us human? Is it that we love, that we fight ? That we laugh ? Cry ? Our curiosity ? The quest for discovery ? Driven by these questions, filmmaker and artist Yann Arthus-Bertrand spent three years collecting real-life stories from 2,000 women and men in 60 countries. Working with a dedicated team of translators, journalists and cameramen, Yann captures deeply personal and emotional accounts of topics that unite us all; struggles with poverty, war, homophobia, and the future of our planet mixed with moments of love and happiness.

 

Reference

Gilard, F. (Producer), & Arthus-Bertrand, Y. (Director). (2015). Human [Motion Picture]. France: GoodPlanet Foundation.

Censorship and Ethnographic Film: Confronting State Bureaucracies, Cultural Regulation, and Institutionalized Homophobia in India

Based on my encounters with the Indian censor board while trying to get my films approved for broadcast on Indian television, I explore how bureaucratic institutions such as the Indian Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) operate as instruments of the nation-state to control speech, regulate culture, and stifle dissent in the interest of advancing the Indian government’s nationalist, paternalist, heteronormative agendas and policies. I also look briefly at how nongovernmental actors like special interest religious and political groups attempt to regulate even the transnational domains of media circulation online, which offer some possibilities for transcending the regulatory mechanisms of the nation-state. Citing my experiences to show how ethnographic films and scholarship are continuously shaped by the various mediascapes within which they circulate, this article opens up a conversation about what it means to submit our scholarship for sanctioning by the nation-state in which we carry out our research.

 

Reference

Gill, H. (2017). Censorship and Ethnographic Film: Confronting State Bureaucracies, Cultural Regulation, and Institutionalized Homophobia in India. Visual Anthropology Review, 33(1), 62-73.

Censorship and Ethnographic Film: Confronting State Bureaucracies, Cultural Regulation, and Institutionalized Homophobia in India

Based on my encounters with the Indian censor board while trying to get my films approved for broadcast on Indian television, I explore how bureaucratic institutions such as the Indian Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) operate as instruments of the nation-state to control speech, regulate culture, and stifle dissent in the interest of advancing the Indian government’s nationalist, paternalist, heteronormative agendas and policies. I also look briefly at how nongovernmental actors like special interest religious and political groups attempt to regulate even the transnational domains of media circulation online, which offer some possibilities for transcending the regulatory mechanisms of the nation-state. Citing my experiences to show how ethnographic films and scholarship are continuously shaped by the various mediascapes within which they circulate, this article opens up a conversation about what it means to submit our scholarship for sanctioning by the nation-state in which we carry out our research.

 

Reference

Gill, Harjant S. “Censorship and Ethnographic Film: Confronting State Bureaucracies, Cultural Regulation, and Institutionalized Homophobia in India.” Visual Anthropology Review, vol. 33, no. 1, 2017, pp. 62–73.

Documenting, Dramatizing, and Representing China’s Porcelain World in Broken Pots Broken Dreams

In this essay, I argue that a successful ethnographic film, like a good story, responds both to its film subjects and to its audience’s expectations. I discuss why I made a film about Jingdezhen’s porcelain workers (as opposed to a text) and the relationships, goals, ideas, and constraints that influenced the final film. I contextualize my process in a broader discussion of documentary and ethnographic filmmaking, looking at representation in documentary, sensory anthropology, and the conventions of Western dramatic writing.

 

Reference

Gillette, M. (2014). Documenting, Dramatizing, and Representing China’s Porcelain World in Broken Pots Broken Dreams. Visual Anthropology Review, 30(1), 38-49.

New Ethnographic Film in the New China

Over the past two decades, a new ethnographic cinema of China has taken shape, one element of an explosion of documentaries produced about the People’s Republic. In this volume, five China ethnographers discuss making ethnographic films in China, thus addressing in part the need, long noted in anthropology, for filmmakers to write about production and postproduction of ethnographic films. In this introduction, I sketch a history of ethnographic films about China and reflect on these five new ethnographic films in light of past practices, the theoretical literature on ethnographic cinema, and the ethnography of China.

 

Reference

Gillette, M. (2014). New Ethnographic Film in the New China. Visual Anthropology Review, 30(1), 1-10.

Decolonizing Documentary on-screen and Off: Sensory Ethnography and the Aesthetics of Accountability

Ginsburg explores the sensory ethnography films that have emerged from Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab (SEL), an experimental laboratory that promotes innovative combinations of aesthetics and ethnography. Over the last decade, SEL projects have established a presence in prestigious high-art venues, ranging from the New York Film Festival to the Whitney Biennial and their equivalents in other countries. Sweetgrass (2009) was the work that first powerfully marked the SEL approach. Produced by Ilise Barbash and directed and shot by Lucien Castaing-Taylor, it is an intimate, unsentimental, and beautifully observed elegy to the American West.

 

Reference

Ginsburg, F. (2018). Decolonizing Documentary on-screen and Off: Sensory Ethnography and the Aesthetics of Accountability. Film Quarterly, 72(1), 39-49.

Decolonizing Documentary On-Screen and Off: Sensory Ethnography and the Aesthetics of Accountability

The article discusses the work of the Sensory Ethnography Lab (SEL), a joint venture between the Visual and Environmental Studies and Anthropology departments at Harvard University. According to the author, SEL projects embraced the spirit and practice of collaboration on all aspects of filmmaking. Documentary films including ”Sweetgrass” (2009) by Lucien Castaing-Taylor; ”Leviathan” (2012) by Véréna Paravel and J .P. Sniadecki, and ”Manakamana”(2013), by Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez are discussed.

 

Reference

Ginsburg, Faye. “Decolonizing Documentary On-Screen and Off: Sensory Ethnography and the Aesthetics of Accountability.” Film Quarterly, vol. 72, no. 1, Sept. 2018, pp. 39–49.

Keep the River on Your Right

A nomadic family in Mongolia’s Gobi desert faces a problem when a white camel colt is born in a difficult delivery and the mother rejects it. Repeated efforts by the extended family to get the mother to nurse the colt fail. The colt stands alone and cries for its mother. The family worries that the colt will not survive. Finally, Dude (Enkhbulgan Ikhbayar), the older boy, is sent to a nearby town to find a musician who can perform a “Hoos” ceremony.

Little Ugna (Uuganbaatar Ikhbayar) begs to go along. The two boys travel for miles across the desert, stopping at a neighbor’s yert, where Ugna is delighted by his first encounter with television. They travel on to the village, and then return home with word that a musician is on the way. A musical ceremony is performed in an effort to get the mother camel to accept her colt.

The Story of the Weeping Camel is a blend of documentary footage and narrative. Filmmakers Luigi Falorni and Byambasuren Davaa cast a real nomad family of herders and shot many of the events in the film as they occurred. The Story of the Weeping Camel was selected by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art for inclusion in the 2004 edition of New Directors/New Films.

 

Reference

Gladziejewski, C. (Producer), & Davaa, B., & Falorni, L. (Directors). (2003). Keep the River on Your Right [Motion Picture]. Germany: Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film München.

The Representation of Childhood in Ethnographic Films of Siberian Indigenous Peoples: The Case of the Documentary Film Malen’kaia Katerina (Tiny Katerina)

This article investigates the representation of childhood in ethnographic films among the indigenous peoples of the Russian North. The article focuses on the documentary film Malen’kaia Katerina (Tiny Katerina; Ivan Golovnev 2004), which depicts the childhood of a Khanty girl in northwestern Siberia. The article employs the concept of ethnocinema as a synthesis of scientific and aesthetic approaches for perceiving and understanding traditional culture. Based on field diary recordings, reflections on the anthropological knowledge of childhood are represented via the audiovisual medium. Particular attention is paid to the visual representation of the world of childhood in traditional Khanty culture, including the child’s relation to nature, the world of adults, games, and the development of gender identity.

 

Reference

Golovnev, I., & Golovneva, E. (2016). The Representation of Childhood in Ethnographic Films of Siberian Indigenous Peoples: The Case of the Documentary Film Malen’kaia Katerina (Tiny Katerina). Sibirica, 15(3), 83-106.

Documenting Religious Responses to 3.11 on Film

This research note discusses the challenges of post-disaster filmmaking and introduces two short films about religious responses to the 11 March 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster in Japan that were produced to accompany this special issue. The first clip presents perspectives on the cherry blossom festival at Jōnenji, a Pure Land Buddhist temple that functioned as an evacuation center in the tsunami-stricken city of Kesennuma. Volunteers started the festival in 2012, and it has since grown into a major annual event that, besides commemorating the tragic events of 3.11, provides an important opportunity for recreation. The second vignette examines the training of rinshō shūkyōshi, literally “clinical religious specialists,” or “interfaith chaplains,” at Tohoku University in Sendai. As the video shows, this program, which comprises a distinctive collaboration of religious and nonreligious aid providers, has contributed to a shifting image of religion in Japan’s public sphere. Instructors and students may find the audiovisual component useful in discussing different intersections of religion and relief in contemporary Japan and as a means of exploring practical and theoretical dimensions of religious responses to disaster. The vignettes can be streamed or downloaded for free from Vimeo. Vignette One (Jōnenji): https://vimeo.com/141396760 and Vignette Two (Interfaith Chaplains): https://vimeo.com/141380269.

 

Reference

Graf, Tim. “Documenting Religious Responses to 3.11 on Film.” Asian Ethnology, vol. 75, no. 1, 2016, pp. 203–19. [Video Clips]

The Essential I/Eye in We : A Black TransFeminist Approach to Ethnographic Film

This essay is a critical and creative meditation on the process of making my ethnographic film It Gets Messy in Here (2011), a thirty-two-minute short documentary that examines the experiences of Black and Asian American transgender men and masculine of center queer women in public bathrooms. This essay explicates a Trans* and TransFeminist approach to filmmaking, a transformative film praxis that has the ability to move people to a higher level of self-consciousness about their place in the world and the systems that produce that place. This essay explores an intersubjective and self-reflexive approach to scholarship in hopes that it might produce new knowledge about and for the communities being studied, but also new epistemological platforms for that very knowledge.

 

Reference

Green, K. (2015). The Essential I/Eye in We : A Black TransFeminist Approach to Ethnographic Film. Black Camera, 6(2), 187-200.

The Essential I/Eye in We: A Black TransFeminist Approach to Ethnographic Film

This essay is a criti­cal and creative meditation on the process of making my ethnographic film It Gets Messy in Here (2011), a thirty-two minute short documentary that examines the experiences of Black and Asian Ameri­can transgender men and masculine of center queer women in public bathrooms. This essay explicates a Trans* and TransFeminist approach to filmmaking, a transformative film praxis that has the ability to move people to a higher level of self-consciousness about their place in the world and the systems that produce that place. This essay explores an inter-subjective and self-­reflexive approach to scholarship in hopes that it might produce new knowledge about and for the communities being studied, but also new epistemological platforms for that very knowledge.

 

Reference

Green, Kai M. “The Essential I/Eye in We: A Black TransFeminist Approach to Ethnographic Film.” Black Camera, vol. 6, no. 2, 2015, p. 187.

Beyond the Boundaries of Language

In recent memory, there’s been a never-ending deluge of bad news for the arts and humanities in the U.S.: government support, which is already low, may be cut entirely; universities, facing budget crises, have axed language and arts programs; prominent professors spend their time writing books defending the basic value of humanistic inquiry, while their pecuniary graduate students fight for poverty wages as adjuncts, and earn a little money on the side writing articles about their plight.

 

Reference

Grimaldi, Carmine. “Beyond the Boundaries of Language.” Filmmaker Magazine, https://filmmakermagazine.com/102727-beyond-the-boundaries-of-language/.

Drawing With a Camera? Ethnographic Film and Transformative Anthropology

Drawing has emerged as a recent focus of anthropological attention. Writers such as Ingold and Taussig have argued for its significance as a special kind of knowledge practice, linking it to a broader re-imagining of the anthropological project itself. Underpinning their approach is an opposition between the pencil and the camera, between ‘making’ and ‘taking’, between restrictive and generative modes of inquiry. This essay challenges this assumption, arguing that these elements in drawing and filmmaking exist in a dialectical rather than a polarized relationship. It highlights particular insights that follow from a dialogue between written and film-based anthropologies and links them to broader debates within the discipline — for example, debates about ways of knowing, skilled practice, improvisation and the imagination, and anthropology as a form of image-making practice.

 

Reference

Grimshaw, A., & Ravetz, A. (2015). Drawing With a Camera? Ethnographic Film and Transformative Anthropology. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 21(2), 255-275.

The Ax Fight: A Critical Engagement with the Work of Tim Asch and John Marshall

Although The Ax Fight is one of the most discussed films in the history of ethnographic cinema, we argue that commentators have overlooked certain key aspects of the film. Critical engagement with Asch’s techniques and how they work to shape a particular interpretation of the Yanomamo is crucial to understanding the kind of anthropological work that ethnographic film does and can do. Offered as an exercise in close reading, this essay is intended, first, to highlight the kinds of analytical skills necessary in taking film seriously as a medium of scholarly inquiry. Second, by juxtaposing The Ax Fight and associated Yanomami shorts with the work of his contemporary John Marshall, we extend our evaluation of Asch by challenging assumed continuities between the two filmmakers. We suggest that a careful examination of the complex web of overlap and distinction in their respective practice allows for a more nuanced understanding of technique, knowledge, and reflexivity in anthropological work.

 

Reference

Grimshaw, Anna, and Sydney M. Silverstein. “The Ax Fight: A Critical Engagement with the Work of Tim Asch and John Marshall.” Visual Anthropology Review, vol. 34, no. 2, 2018, pp. 113–23.

Material and Sensory Dimensions of Everyday News Use

This article seeks to capture material and sensory dimensions of everyday news use that usually remain unexplored. To that end, we developed a two-sided-ethnography, filming people while they use news, allowing both researchers and participants to look in and reflect on their news use. Tapping into news users’ embodied, tacit knowledge, we found that the materiality of devices and platforms and the ways users physically handle and navigate them impact how they engage with news, in ways they themselves had not realized. We also deepened our understanding of previously found news user practices, and identified the distinct practice scrolling, which is characterized by an embodied urge to keep up the movement of the hand, even when the user finds content appealing. Finally, we show how people actively ‘make’ place and time through their news practices, using coping strategies that mediate between the comfortability of ritual news use and the disruptiveness of news content. We conclude by discussing the theoretical, methodological, and epistemological implications of our research, which include a call for a more in-situ, real-time, and non-news-centric approach to studying everyday news use.

 

Reference

Groot Kormelink, Tim, and Irene Costera Meijer. “Material and Sensory Dimensions of Everyday News Use.” Media, Culture & Society, vol. 41, no. 5, July 2019, pp. 637–53.

The Authoring of Observational Cinema: Conversations with Colin Young

Based on a series of conversations with Colin Young that have taken place over more than thirty years, this article explores how a certain set of practical and institutional circumstances, in combination with a series of philosophical and aesthetic ideas about the nature of cinema, first led to the emergence over the late 1960s and early 1970s of the approach to ethnographic filmmaking that would become known as “Observational Cinema.” Although it was those whom Colin Young trained, inspired or simply influenced who worked out the practical filmmaking applications of his ideas, it was he who initially formulated the foundational concepts underpinning this approach to ethnographic filmmaking. As such, although he has been a “filmmaker-maker” rather than a filmmaker himself, Colin Young has a rightful claim to be considered, in the sense defined by Roland Barthes, as the original “author” of Observational Cinema.

 

Reference

Henley, P. (2018). The Authoring of Observational Cinema: Conversations with Colin Young. Visual Anthropology, 31(3), 193-235.

Camera Documents Made at Home: Visual Culture and the Question of America

This essay considers three films made in the 1950s that used ethnographic images to educate audiences about contemporary American cultural life. The use of images in these films conveyed the idea that American culture was uniquely suited to change. Americans’ apparent facility with the image suggested that American culture was at once under ascendance and in question. The films borrow images and practices from the ethnographic field to reveal one pathway for a process of visual enculturation that was characteristic of the postwar United States in which modernity and visual culture coexisted and encouraged mediated self-observation.

 

Reference

Hillyer, Minette. “Camera Documents Made at Home: Visual Culture and the Question of America.” Film History, vol. 27, no. 4, 2015, pp. 46–75.

Observational Cinema: Grimshaw, Anna, and Amanda Ravetz. Observational Cinema: Anthropology, Film, and the Exploration of Social Life

This book on the style or genre we know as Observational Cinema has been a long time coming. The idea for such a kind of ethnographic film was first launched in the late 1960s and, while the approach was dealt with in important articles and chapters by Roger Sandall, Colin Young and David MacDougall especially, this is perhaps the first attempt to see the genre in a long-term perspective.

 

Reference

Hockings, P. (2015). Observational Cinema: Grimshaw, Anna, and Amanda Ravetz. Observational Cinema: Anthropology, Film, and the Exploration of Social Life. Bloomington and Indanapolis: Indiana University Press, 2009; xx 198 pp., illus., notes, filmography, biblio., index. ISBN 978-0-253-22158-2. Visual Anthropology, 28(4), 360-364.

Single-Shot Cinema and Ethnographic Sympathy in Contemporary Indonesia: A Review Essay on The Eye of the Day (2001)

Crisis, the fall of Suharto’s authoritarian New Order regime (1965–1998), and the subsequent period of reform and democratization—documentary filmmaker Leonard Retel Helmrich directed an impressive, at times moving, trilogy that chronicles an intimate story of a family who struggles to navigate through the hope and despair of poverty and political upheaval. The Eye of the Day (2001) introduces the matriarch Rumidja Sjamsudin, a devoutly Christian woman who lives in Jakarta’s slums with her troubled 20‐something son Bakti and her young, orphaned granddaughter Tari. When we first meet the family in 1998, Rumidja’s older son Dwi has already converted to Islam and lives nearby with his Muslim wife. In The Shape of the Moon (2004), Rumidja returns to her village in central Java, Bakti continues his self‐destructive pattern of drinking and gambling, and political and religious leaders vie for power in a newly democratic Indonesia. In the final film, Position Among the Stars (2011), the family projects its anxieties and fears onto Tari, who, they hope and pray, might someday offer redemption for the family’s misfortunes.

 

Reference

Hoesterey, J. (2014). Single-Shot Cinema and Ethnographic Sympathy in Contemporary Indonesia: A Review Essay on The Eye of the Day (2001), The Shape of the Moon (2004), and Position Among the Stars (2011) – By Leonard Retel Helmrich. Visual Anthropology Review, 30(1), 85-89.

Discretions

Most ethnological research trips ended quite literally at the knowledge of the gods. Not only those of writers like Leiris and Artaud, but also the anthropological journeys of Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead to Bali and that of Maya Deren to Haiti. Film footage of rites and rituals was supposed be made at a distance, in the field. Nevertheless, an unexpected interference of cultural effects appears between the ones filming and the objects of their anthropological investigations.

 

Reference

Holl, Ute. “Discretions.” Cinema, Trance and Cybernetics, Amsterdam University Press, 2017, pp. 57–76.

Exercise Musk-OX: The Challenges of Filming a Military Expedition in Canada’s Arctic

Canada’s Arctic has always attracted explorers to its vast expanses to stake claims or to study its natural resources and its people. Motion picture film has played an important role in documenting those who have ventured to frozen lands to explore Northern regions. In films shot by either amateur or professional filmmakers, the common theme is often one of survival. This paper explores the journey of members of the British-Canadian Arctic Expedition (1936–40), and Exercise Musk-Ox (1946), who under very challenging conditions braved the elements, along with their motion picture cameras, just as many explorers who came before and after them.

 

Reference

Holloway, Caroline Forcier. “EXERCISE MUSK-OX:: THE CHALLENGES OF FILMING A MILITARY EXPEDITION IN CANADA’S ARCTIC.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 245–54.

How It Happened

Camera and filmmaker are invited into group therapy sessions in which soldiers recount, at length, the traumas they have experienced; we then look on as the same men try to adjust to normal lives that may never feel normal again. Thanks to Sniadecki’s snaking camera and Ernst Karel’s predictably ace sound design (the film begins with several minutes of avant-jazzlike rail screeching over a black screen), it’s a worthy addition to the Sensory Ethnography Lab’s deepening hard-rock catalog.

 

Reference

Hynes, Eric. “How It Happened.” Film Comment; New York, vol. 52, no. 1, Feb. 2016, pp. 20–21.

The Politics and Aesthetics of Non-Representation: Re-Imagining Ethnographic Cinema with Apichatpong Weerasethakul

This article argues that the work of Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul offers conceptual and methodological tools that may contribute to the re-imagination of ethnographic cinema beyond representation. Weerasethakul’s films emerge out of a para-ethnographic engagement with people and places, rely on participatory methods and operate as hosting devices for a multiplicity of subaltern beings and stories. They enact an inventive and often animistic “performative realism” (Ingawanij 2013a) which can be understood as political in the sense that it creates new conditions of possibility and room for alter-ontologies. The article conceptualizes this orientation in relation to the production of “assemblages of collective enunciation” (Deleuze and Guattari 1986) as well as to Eduardo Viveiros de Castro’s (2010) idea of “taking seriously” the ontology of others, that is, the other worlds that they experience.

 

Reference

Isaac Marrero-Guillamón. (2018). The Politics and Aesthetics of Non-Representation: Re-Imagining Ethnographic Cinema with Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Antípoda: Revista De Antropología Y Arqueología, 33(33), 13-32.

5 Controversial Documentaries That Blurred the Line Between Fact and Fiction

One of the most well-known documentaries of all time, Robert Flaherty’s 1922 ethnography took viewers up to northern Quebec to experience the life of a fur trader named Nanook and his family in the inhospitable frozen wastes. The film was a tremendous success and it inspired a wave of imitators.

 

Reference

Jensen, K. Thor. “5 Controversial Documentaries That Blurred the Line Between Fact and Fiction.” IFC, //www.ifc.com/shows/documentary-now/blog/2015/09/5-documentaries-that-turned-out-to-be-bullshit.

A Gentle Gaze On The Colony: Jette Bang’s Documentary Filming In Greenland 1938–9

Among a memorable series of Arctic explorers, scientists and adventurers during the past centuries, few women stand out. One exception is Jette Bang (1914–64), who produced photographic and filmic documentation of Greenland from 1937 onwards. Her extraordinary number of high-quality photographs, now available in a vast digital archive, had a profound influence upon Danish and Greenlandic perceptions of life in Greenland during and after World War II. Her early films, in contrast, were widely neglected and have only recently been made available. In particular the film material she recorded in 1938–9 in West Greenland demands further attention.

 

Reference

Jørgensen, Anne Mette. “A Gentle Gaze On The Colony: Jette Bang’s Documentary Filming In Greenland 1938–9.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 235–44.

Unpacking Ethnographic Film and African Cinema: Imbricated Border Crossings and the Communicative Gap in Spectatorship

Ethnographic film provides a prototype for visual border crossings in anthropological research. The films of Jean Rouch, recently experiencing renewed scholarly interest, provide a point of departure for examining the sites of ethnographic film production and consumption. This article explores the ethnographic and visual challenges introduced by Rouch’s work and the unresolved methodological issues that they raise. Rouch’s distinctive oeuvre offers a lens through which to examine the problems of intercultural translation and imbricated border crossings. His early signature films, Les Maîtres fous [The Mad Masters] (1954), Moi, un noir [Me, a Black] (1960), and Chronique d’un été [Chronicle of a Summer] (1960) represent contrasting approaches to migration, African urban life, and new subjectivities. His attempts to penetrate the cultural universes of his filmic subjects and to engage in focused feedback sessions across cultures were groundbreaking. However, the obstacles encountered in the production and screening of these films reflect the communicative gaps emerging as ethnographers move from production to consumption sites and from film shooting to editing, with the intention of reaching multiple audiences.

 

Reference

Jules-Rosette, B. (2015). Unpacking Ethnographic Film and African Cinema: Imbricated Border Crossings and the Communicative Gap in Spectatorship. Critical Interventions, 9(3), 159-178.

Northern Exposures and Marginal Critiques: the Politics of Sovereignty in Sámi Cinema

In 2012, the Finnish Film Foundation (FFF) established a funding initiative devoted to developing Sámi film production, a move marking a significant development acknowledging the marginal status of Sámi cinema within the Nordic countries. While the fund is part of the FFF’s focus on developing marginal film production practices and themes, and thus not a long-term charity case, its introduction is indicative of a range of key considerations. First, Sámi cinema has received increased attention in the Nordic countries in the 2000s as both a filmmaking practice and a topic of representation.

 

Reference

Kääpä, Pietari. “Northern Exposures and Marginal Critiques: the Politics of Sovereignty in Sámi Cinema.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 45–58.

The Four Dimensions of Ethnographic Films

In my last post I argued that rather than choosing between overly narrow “closed” or overly broad “open” definitions of ethnographic film, it would be better to follow Uberto Eco’s model of listing a “family of resemblances.” This would consist of a list of features that make a film “ethnographic” but without any two ethnographic films necessarily sharing the exact same list of features. When I wrote that I had a draft list of about sixteen features I had been working on.

 

Reference

Kerim. The Four Dimensions of Ethnographic Films | Savage Minds. //https://savageminds.org/2017/07/26/the-four-dimensions-of-ethnographic-films/.

What Does It Look Like?’: On the Use of Intermediary Images in Egyptian Film Production

This article examines the use of intermediary images in the process of commercial film production in Egypt. Without being integrally part of the film product, intermediary images play a vital role in mediating interactions in the production process by anchoring the filmmakers’ multiple and sometimes conflicting representations of “the film” in visual proxies. Focusing on scouting work in two recent Egyptian films, Décor and Poisonous Roses (in postproduction), I draw attention to the way in which intermediary images allow filmmakers to imagine some aspects of the film-in-the-making while mitigating their mutual misunderstandings.

 

Reference

Khachab, Chihab El. “‘What Does It Look Like?’: On the Use of Intermediary Images in Egyptian Film Production.” Visual Anthropology Review, vol. 32, no. 2, 2016, pp. 167–79.

Fieldwork as Performance: Being Ethnographic in Film-making

This paper examines the use of the visual medium of collaborative ethnographic film-making as a fieldwork method in anthropology. Focusing on practices of filming, I adapt Richard Schechner’s ideas of performance processes and relational quadrilogues to move beyond the dichotomy of factual “documentation” versus non-factual “fiction.” Instead I think around complicity to reconfigure “ethnographic authority” in film-making as a fieldwork practice. The paper considers the making of the ethnographic film Kabul Kiya? Do You Accept? by Julia Koch, Helen Basu and Andreas Samland, which focuses on Islam, marriage and migration between Africa and India. The paper centres on the multiplicity of the collaborative relationships between those involved in making the film: two of the protagonists, two anthropologists and a full-time cinematographer.

 

Reference

Koch, J. (2019). Fieldwork as Performance: Being Ethnographic in Film-making. Anthropology Southern Africa, 42(2), 161-172.

The Anthropologist

The Anthropologist considers the fate of the planet from the perspective of an American teenager. Over five years, she travels alongside her mother, an anthropologist studying the impact of climate change on indigenous communities.

 

Reference

Kramer, S., Miller, D. A., & Newberger, J. (Producers), & Kramer, S., Miller, D. A., & Newberger, J. (Directors). (2016). The Anthropologist [Motion Picture]. United States: Ironbound Films.

From Dreamland to Homeland: A Journey Toward Futures Different Than Pasts

This chapter provides an artists-scholars’ reflection on the experience of and inspiration behind the making of an essayistic documentary for the twenty-first century: Dreamland by Britt Kramvig and Rachel Andersen Gomez (Norway, 2016). Depicting people, places, and events in Sápmi, the film melds past and present. A line from the poem “Dream-Land” (1844) by Edgar Allan Poe inspired the film’s title, signaling the purposeful interweaving of multiple influences, traditions, and paradigms. The film is conceived as a theoretical and aesthetic intervention, featuring an Indigenous anthropologist performing as an “earthling”, that is, a figure committed to telling new stories…

 

Reference

Kramvig, Britt, and Rachel Andersen Gomez. “From Dreamland to Homeland: A Journey Toward Futures Different Than Pasts.” Arctic Cinemas and the Documentary Ethos, edited by Lilya Kaganovsky et al., Indiana University Press, 2019, pp. 322–34.

Embodied Visual Meaning in Film

This chapter presents an embodied account of visual meaning-making in cinema. Borrowing insights from cognitive linguistics, and in particular Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT), we intend to show how film is an exemplary case of embodied, immanent meaning. What do we mean when we say that the meaning of particular visual features in film is grounded in sensory-motor experience? And what role do image schemas play in the conveyance of abstract thought in film? These are some of the questions that we are going to address in this chapter. We start our essay with a brief discussion and criticism of the traditional conceptual view of meaning according to which meaning is considered solely as a property of language. Secondly, we show how an embodied view of meaning offers an alternative to the propositional view of meaning. We conclude our contribution with an analysis of two examples of embodied visual meaning in cinema. More specifically, we demonstrate how image schemas serve as important solutions to the problem of how to represent abstract concepts in film.

 

Reference

Kravanja, Peter, and Maarten Coëgnarts. Embodied Visual Meaning in Film. 2015, pp. 63–80.

Women Arctic Explorers: in Front of and Behind the Camera

Cameras have been brought on expeditions to the Far North for over a century. Explorers who were also filmmakers include Anthony Fiala on the Ziegler Polar Expedition (1903–05), Donald MacMillan on the Crocker Land Expedition (1913–17), Fyodor Bremer on the Kolyma voyage to the Bering Strait, the Far East, and Kamchatka (1913–1914), and Leo Hansen as part of Knud Rasmussen’s Fifth Thule Expedition on dog sled from Greenland to Alaska (1921–24).

 

Reference

Larsson, Mariah, and Anna Westerstahl Stenport. “Women Arctic Explorers: in Front of and Behind the Camera.” Arctic Cinemas and the Documentary Ethos, edited by Anna Westerstahl Stenport et al., Indiana University Press, 2019, pp. 68–91.

The Balinese Cockfight Reimagined: Tajen: Interactive and the Prospects for a Multimodal Anthropology

An essay which documents a film project highlighting the iterative and creative process involved in the anthropological study of “tajen,” or the Balinese cockfight, is presented. Topics covered include the nonfiction narrative storytelling approach similar to sensory ethnography used in the film, techniques used in shooting for the film, immersion in the world of cockfighting and using the process of ethnographic observation and interviewing and the process of making Tajen: Interactive.

 

Reference

Lemelson, Robert, and Briana Young. “The Balinese Cockfight Reimagined: Tajen: Interactive and the Prospects for a Multimodal Anthropology.” American Anthropologist, vol. 120, no. 4, Dec. 2018, pp. 831–43.

Shouldn’t Love Be the One True Thing? Godard and the Legacy of Surrealist Ethics

The article focuses on an analysis of surrealism depiction in films of filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard. Topics discussed include depiction of surrealistic approaches in different films by Godard associated with New Wave period along with the Adieu au Langage film; analysis of ethnography conditions in filmmaking process of director Jean Rouch over direction of the Moi, un Noir film; and analysis of Godard’s film Vivre Sa Vie starring Anna Karina.

 

Reference

Levett, Anna. “Shouldn’t Love Be the One True Thing? Godard and the Legacy of Surrealist Ethics.” Quarterly Review of Film & Video, vol. 34, no. 8, Dec. 2017, pp. 687–706.

The Creative Treatment of Alterity: Nanook as the North

This chapter considers Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North (US, 1922) – probably the most famous Arctic film ever made – and the many, often fraught, reiterations of the film in the cinematic imaginary of the Arctic. Starting with Flaherty’s film – typically understood to be, pace John Grierson, the first ‘documentary’ – the chapter examines the ways in which the stories of ‘Nanook’ (played by Inuit hunter Allakariallak) and Flaherty have been continuously rearticulated throughout cinema history, in works as diverse as realist ethnographic documentaries like Nanook Revisited (Claude Massot, France, 1990), narrative feature film retellings of Flaherty’s filming…

 

Reference

MacKenzie, Scott. “The Creative Treatment of Alterity: Nanook as the North.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 201–14.

‘leviathan’: From Sensory Ethnography to Gallery Film

I entered the doors of the Whitney Biennial (7 March – 25 May 2014) with the specific aim of attending the 2pm screening of Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Véréna Paravel, 2013), one of the most frequently-referenced films in the context of contemporary documentary. I was about to see a gallery film version in order to challenge my scholarly preconceptions of Leviathan ‘the sensory ethnography doc’. Thus, I missed the opportunity, as suggested by the museum booklet, to ‘look broadly at different types of work and various modes of working that can be called contemporary American art’.

 

Reference

Malin Wahlberg. (2014).‘leviathan’: From Sensory Ethnography to Gallery Film. NECSUS : European Journal of Media Studies, 3(2), 251-258.

Cameras at Work: Dusty Lenses and Processed Videos in the Quarries of Hyderabad

The article highlights the debate surrounding concepts of objectivity and reality within the discipline of visual anthropology, but more specifically ethnographic film. Three criteria are listed as key parameters in the functioning of an ethnographic film, and these are used to contrast differences between the standard mode of conveyance in ethnographic film, namely the documentary, and a novel genre known as the “docudrama.” In doing this the author highlights the potential of the docudrama to convey what could be argued to be “reality,” and in support of this a case study is presented on the film Ghosts [Broomfield 2006 ]. A review of that case study provides evidence for the argument that the genre of docudrama may hold weight within the arena of ethnographic film.

 

Reference

Messier, P. (2019). Cameras at Work: Dusty Lenses and Processed Videos in the Quarries of Hyderabad. Visual Anthropology, 32(3-4), 287-308.

Cameras at Work: Dusty Lenses and Processed Videos in the Quarries of Hyderabad

Ethnographic filmmakers have always looked for new ways to record lives. Drawing from Gilbert Simondon’s ideas on technology, this article explores the technical conditions of filmmaking through the materiality of environments, digital and optical devices, recording formats, and human actions. It considers the work of cameras as participants in the stone quarries of Hyderabad (Telangana, India), and discusses how infrastructures of digital videos are hacked and acted upon. This article suggests that to contribute to theories in visual anthropology, and understand practices of ethnographic filmmaking, we need to reveal how cameras work with filmmakers, but also through them.

 

Reference

Messier, P. (2019). Cameras at Work: Dusty Lenses and Processed Videos in the Quarries of Hyderabad. Visual Anthropology, 32(3-4), 287-308.

Projections of Race, Nature, and Ethnographic Childhood in Early Educational Cinema at the National Museum of Canada

In this article, we examine depictions of race, nature, and childhood in Harlan Ingersoll Smith’s early ethnographic films at the National Museum of Canada. Created in the 1920s for a children’s education programme, Smith’s films construct ethnographic portraits of different Indigenous peoples in Western Canada. We demonstrate how museum education appropriated Indigeneity as a discursive resource to immerse viewing children in particular narratives of Canadian national heritage and development. The films worked through a complex double movement, bringing children in the Ottawa museum audience into association with Indigenous children based on shared experience as children while simultaneously differentiating Indigenous peoples as Other. The films inculcated white youth at the museum in a romanticized connection to Canada’s prehistory through knowledge of the nation’s Indigenous peoples as well as nature. In the films, the position of Indigeneity within the future remained ambiguous (traditional practices sometimes disappearing, sometimes enduring). Yet, despite Smith’s uncertainty about colonial beliefs in the disappearance of Indigeneity, his films nonetheless presented the teleological development of the settler nation as certain. Our article highlights how thinking about children, as audience for and thematic focus of these films, extends discussions of the geographies of film, of children, and of settler colonial nationalism.

 

Reference

Murnaghan, A., & Mccreary, T. (2016). Projections of Race, Nature, and Ethnographic Childhood in Early Educational Cinema at the National Museum of Canada. Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography, 98(1), 37-53.

In this article, we examine depictions of race, nature, and childhood in Harlan Ingersoll Smith’s early ethnographic films at the National Museum of Canada. Created in the 1920s for a children’s education programme, Smith’s films construct ethnographic portraits of different Indigenous peoples in Western Canada. We demonstrate how museum education appropriated Indigeneity as a discursive resource to immerse viewing children in particular narratives of Canadian national heritage and development. The films worked through a complex double movement, bringing children in the Ottawa museum audience into association with Indigenous children based on shared experience as children while simultaneously differentiating Indigenous peoples as Other. The films inculcated white youth at the museum in a romanticized connection to Canada’s prehistory through knowledge of the nation’s Indigenous peoples as well as nature. In the films, the position of Indigeneity within the future remained ambiguous (traditional practices sometimes disappearing, sometimes enduring). Yet, despite Smith’s uncertainty about colonial beliefs in the disappearance of Indigeneity, his films nonetheless presented the teleological development of the settler nation as certain. Our article highlights how thinking about children, as audience for and thematic focus of these films, extends discussions of the geographies of film, of children, and of settler colonial nationalism.

Scouting the Past: A Conversation with Priya Jaikumar on Where Histories Reside: India as Filmed Space

Kartik Nair in conversation with Priya Jaikumar about her new book, Where Histories Reside: India as Filmed Space.

 

Reference

Nair, Kartik. “Scouting the Past: A Conversation with Priya Jaikumar on Where Histories Reside: India as Filmed Space.” Film Quarterly, 10 Sept. 2019, https://filmquarterly.org/2019/09/10/scouting-the-past-a-conversation-with-priya-jaikumar-on-where-histories-reside-india-as-filmed-space/.

Leviathan and the Experience of Sensory Ethnography: And Sensory Ethnography

This article explores the genre of “sensory ethnography” through an investigation of the film Leviathan (2012, Lucien Castaing‐Taylor and Véréna Paravel) and the critical discourse that has arisen around the film. It argues that even as the film dynamically explores new aesthetic territory, some of its basic presuppositions about the ability for film to convey experience and to represent the sensory world remain unexamined for the ways in which they are themselves conventional.

 

Reference

Pavsek, C. (2015). Leviathan and the Experience of Sensory Ethnography: And Sensory Ethnography. Visual Anthropology Review, 31(1), 4-11.

Skilled Vision: The Homeless City-Behind the Making of an Ethnographic Documentary

Here we look at the process behind the making of the film Very Very Different. It was created in the city of Bari (southern Italy) by five homeless people who joined in its production and took part in the storytelling workshops organized by INUIT. These aimed at letting participants bring their own stories and share them gradually, fostering familiarity with audiovisual language in order to merge their specific inclinations with the production of a participatory film. Each session was presented as a moment of mutual learning. From the writing of the screenplay to the shooting and editing of the video itself, participation was the conditio sine qua non for the mutual exchange of knowledge: the technical knowledge of field experts and the local knowledge brought along by the homeless group. The five authors chose a common subject and started the discussion from a news report. Then they inflected it according to the priorities of their personal narrations. Each video shows the city from the street’s point of view and it carries values, imageries and significance to the spatial boundaries. The film exhibits altogether several perspectives and tries to negotiate them: the use of visual means and the concept of authorial commitment, the ethnographic encounter and the weight of relations between researchers and informants, the spatial sense and the construction of personal visualscapes.

 

Reference

Romano, A., & Hardin, S. (2017). Skilled Vision: The Homeless City-Behind the Making of an Ethnographic Documentary. Visual Anthropology, 30(3), 249-260.

We Come As Friends’, or Do We? Hubert Sauper’s New Documentary on South Sudan

We Come As Friends is about as idiosyncratic a film as I could imagine — visually stunning, lyrically composed, hilariously opinionated — meaning it may not be a smash hit at the box office when it is released in theaters this Friday, but anyone who sees it is in for the closest we’ll ever come to a hybridization of Michael Moore and the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab. That is never going to happen, so you have to check this out.

 

Reference

Roston, Tom. “‘We Come As Friends’, or Do We? Hubert Sauper’s New Documentary on South Sudan.” POV’s Documentary Blog, http://archive.pov.org/blog/docsoup/2015/08/we-come-as-friends-or-do-we-hubert-saupers-new-documentary-on-south-sudan/.

The Artful, Intelligent and Unconventional Approach That Sets MoMA’s Doc Fortnight Apart

Artful, intelligent and unconventional, the documentaries that get their due at MoMA’s Doc Fortnight showcase each year may not be mainstream, but they don’t aspire to be. This year’s festival is bookended with the fantastic opening night film Machines, first-time filmmaker Rahul Jain’s portrait of a textile factory in India (think Harvard University’s Sensory Ethnography Lab with a social compass), and the closing night’s Tip of My Tongue, Lynne Sachs’ oral history gathering of 50-something New Yorkers sharing personal reflections of their lives.

 

Reference

Roston, Tom. “The Artful, Intelligent and Unconventional Approach That Sets MoMA’s Doc Fortnight Apart.” POV’s Documentary Blog, http://archive.pov.org/blog/docsoup/2017/02/artful-intelligent-and-unconventional-nonfiction-documentary-films-of-moma-doc-fortnight/.

Synopsis: Real-life individuals discuss topics on society, happiness in the working class among others and with those testimonies the filmmakers create fictional moments based on their interviews. Later on, the individuals discuss the images created with their own words and see if the movie obtained their level of reality.

Los Reyes and What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire Take Viewers Deep into Two Communities

Los Reyes and What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire take viewers deep into two communities — A Chilean skate park through the eyes of two dogs and a Black neighborhood in New Orleans.

 

Reference

Sachs, Ben. “Los Reyes and What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire Take Viewers Deep into Two Communities.” Chicago Reader, https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/los-reyes-perut-osnovikoff-what-you-gonna-do-minervini/Content?oid=72787597.

Arctic Travelogues: Conquering the Soviet North

Early Soviet policies towards the numerically small Northern and Far Eastern indigenous populations emerged from a nineteenth-century populist framework that saw cultural extinction as a major problem (Kuper 1988: 2–3). In the early 1920s, the Soviet press frequently presented the situation of the indigenous population of the North as ‘worsening’, ‘becoming harder’, and finally reaching a ‘catastrophic’ stage (cf. Ianovich 1923: 251–4; Slezkine 1994: 131–83). Soviet nationality policy, defined by Francine Hirsch as a ‘state-sponsored evolutionism’, grounded the Soviet ‘civilizing mission’ in the Marxist concept of development through historical stages (Hirsch 2005: 7).

 

Reference

Sarkisova, Oksana. “Arctic Travelogues: Conquering the Soviet North.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 222–34.

Filmed Ethnography or Ethnographic Film? Voice and Positionality in Ethnographic, Documentary, and Feminist Film

The article discusses the relationships between anthropology, ethnology, and documentary filmmaking. Particular focus is given to the author’s experiences as an anthropologist and filmmaker and to her work co-directing and co-producing the documentary film “Soma Girls” with director and producer Alexia Prichard. Details on her positionality as a feminist woman of Indian heritage making a film about the children of Indian sex workers are presented. The film “Born Into Brothels” is also discussed.

 

Reference

Sikand, N. (2015). Filmed Ethnography or Ethnographic Film? Voice and Positionality in Ethnographic, Documentary, and Feminist Film. Journal of Film and Video, 67(3-4), 42-56.

An Epistemology of Play: Provocation, Pleasure, Participation and Performance in Ethnographic Fieldwork and Film-making

Drawing on previous and ongoing research on ethnofiction films, this article suggests new perspectives on ethnographic fieldwork and film-making, where play stands at the centre of the epistemology. Projective improvisation in ethnofiction shares common denominators with play and especially role play, in which provocation, pleasure and flow motivate the performance. The article presents co-creative role play as a valid ethnographic method, based on the assumption that mimicry gives access to the implicit information of the play world, making it explicit through a reflexive approach.

 

Reference

Sjöberg, J. (2018). An Epistemology of Play: Provocation, Pleasure, Participation and Performance in Ethnographic Fieldwork and Film-making. Anthropologica, 60(2), 403-412.

Better Together: Examining the Role of Collaborative Ethnographic Documentary in Organizational Research

Despite growing interest in video-based methods in organizational research, the use of collaborative ethnographic documentaries is rare. Organizational research could benefit from the inclusion of collaborative ethnographic documentaries to (a) enable the participation of “difficult to research” groups, (b) better access the material, embodied, or sensitive dimensions of work and organizing, and (c) enhance the dissemination and practical benefits of findings. To increase understanding of this under-explored method, the authors first review the available literature and consider strengths, limitations, and ethical concerns in comparison with traditional ethnography and other video-based methods. Using recent data collected on working class men doing “dirty work,” the authors then illustrate the use of collaborative ethnographic documentary as an investigative tool—capturing often concealed, embodied, and material dimensions of work—and a reflective tool—elaborating and particularizing participants’ narrative accounts. It is concluded that collaborative ethnographic documentary facilitates greater trust and communication between researchers and participants, triggering richer exploration of participants’ experiences, in turn strengthening theoretical insights and practical impact of the research.

 

Reference

Slutskaya, N., Game, A., Simpson, R., Lebaron, C., Jarzabkowski, P., & Pratt, M. (2018). Better Together: Examining the Role of Collaborative Ethnographic Documentary in Organizational Research. Organizational Research Methods, 21(2), 341-365.

American Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary: The Cambridge Turn by Scott MacDonald

While I make a quibble with the very title of Scott MacDonald’s American Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary: The Cambridge Turn, he offers a wealth of knowledge to an area of film studies and anthropology that has taken several turns, metaphorical or otherwise. MacDonald traces an academically fortified and selective history of filmmaking within the Cambridge area, with great care taken to describe the traditions of ethnographic filmmaking and emergence of personal documentary that hail from the revered hub of documentary film. Each chapter is devoted to a significant filmmaker, and in some instances, MacDonald also includes either inspired or closely related works by other filmmakers or artists. While the sequentiality of the chapters suggests the history to be linear, MacDonald’s text also recognizes diachronic relationships between filmmakers, schools, and intellectual turns that have defined Cambridge, Massachusetts, as an institution for documentary and ethnographic film.

 

Reference

Snyder, H. (2015). American Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary: The Cambridge Turn by Scott MacDonald. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013.: Book Reviews. Visual Anthropology Review, 31(2), 208-210.

In the documentary we see and listen to the colonial history told through the memories, experiences and reflections from descendants of former Danish Afro-Caribbeans on the Virgin Islands (an artist, a student, a writer an anthropologist) along with art and cultural historians who tell about Denmark and Europe’s role in the enslavement and the transatlantic slave trade – and how the colonial history is present in today’s words, art, museums, education and wealth as well as in various types of memory and forgetfulness.

Specifičnost disciplinarnih i institucionalnih pristupa etnografskom filmu – Milovan Gavazzi i Andrija Štampar

This paper analyses the concept of ethnographic film from the position of two institutions from the beginning of the 20th century: Ethnological Seminar at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of the University of Zagreb and the School of Public Health. This analysis explains the importance of ethnographic qualities of films made by these two different institutions that (in)directly represent the culture of the village. Diverse film production, very often uncritically brought under the common denominator of ethnographic film, will be reassessed by analysing the content of the film and discussing additional rewritings of their meaning and reception in the social and political context of the time.

 

Reference

Urem, S. (2015). Specifičnost disciplinarnih i institucionalnih pristupa etnografskom filmu – Milovan Gavazzi i Andrija Štampar. Studia Ethnologica Croatica, 27(1), 247-305.

Ethnographic Film and Video on Hybrid Television: Learning from the Content, Style, and Distribution of Popular Ethnographic Documentaries

Academic ethnographers have been utilizing film, and more recently video, for a variety of research purposes including the collection, analysis, and dissemination of data. But ethnographic film and video are not the exclusive domain of university-based ethnographers or professionally trained ethnographic researchers. More and more ethnographic films and video documentaries are nowadays produced by filmmakers who aren’t necessarily interested in utilizing their work to advance anthropological, sociological, or other disciplines’ theoretical or substantive agendas. Interestingly, these documentaries often garner wider distribution and larger audiences than ethnographic films and videos made by academics, leading us to question the identity of ethnographic documentary and the potential of this genre to both advance ethnological knowledge and the socio-cultural imagination. In this article, I examine this phenomenon focusing on nonacademic wide-distribution ethnographic documentaries available on cable and satellite TV, Netflix, and iTunes, reflecting on their content, style, distribution strategies, and their status as social scientific ethnographic representations.

 

Reference

Vannini, P. (2015). Ethnographic Film and Video on Hybrid Television: Learning from the Content, Style, and Distribution of Popular Ethnographic Documentaries. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 44(4), 391-416.

Unity: Dress-Scapes of Accra

This ethnographic movie takes us to Accra, the capital of Ghana, where a booming fashion industry celebrates tailor-made fashion from traditional and contemporary African prints to hybrid styles, mixing the African with the Western. Throughout the film, we follow Allan and his wife Cynthia, who make and design African wear that expresses and celebrates African identity, tradition and creativity.

 

Reference

Visser, L. M. (Producer), & Visser, L. M. (Director). (2016). Unity: Dress-Scapes of Accra [Video file]. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/205078498

From Objects to Actors: Knud Rasmussen’s Ethnographic Feature Film the Wedding of Palo

During the summer months of 1932 and 1933, the 7th Thule Expedition led an international team of researchers, under Knud Rasmussen’s guidance, to Greenland’s east coast. There, the team conducted cartographic work, as well as archaeological and geological investigations. In 1921, Denmark had declared the entirety of Greenland and its surrounding waters to be Danish territory, and had since that time been in open conflict with Norway. The Norwegians, independent since 1905, regarded Greenland as their historical property, and recognised only the colonies situated on the west coast as Danish territory.

 

Reference

Volquardsen, Ebbe. “From Objects to Actors: Knud Rasmussen’s Ethnographic Feature Film the Wedding of Palo.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 215–21.

Visual Anthropology in Sardinia: Interview with Silvio Carta

Silvio Carta completed his PhD in Italian Studies at the University of Birmingham. His articles and reviews have appeared in Visual Anthropology, Visual Anthropology Review, Visual Studies, Visual Ethnography, and Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies, among other publications. To find out more about his book Visual Anthropology in Sardinia, Film Matters conducted a Q & A with Carta via email correspondence (June-July 2015).

 

Reference

Warpoole, Kailyn N. Visual Anthropology in Sardinia: Interview with Silvio Carta. By Kailyn N. Warpole | Film Matters Magazine. https://www.filmmattersmagazine.com/2015/09/21/visual-anthropology-in-sardinia-interview-with-silvio-carta-by-kailyn-n-warpole/.

Cannes 2018 Dispatch #1: Everybody Knows, Birds of Passage

One’s valuation of a film—really, any piece of art—is inseparable from the conditions in which it was experienced. The time of day or overall mood and health at the time of the screening (or link-watching) inform my appreciation of a movie just as much as anything else (save for aesthetic preference and sensibility, perhaps), and this extends to festival contexts—to the ways a film participates in the narrative arc of the nine or ten or twelve days of the event, to the impatience stemming from a lack of masterpieces (or good movies, period), and so on. I bring this up to provide some reference for why I might have been especially ill-positioned to receive my first two movies of this year’s Cannes: Asghar Farhadi’s Everybody Knows, which opened the Official Selection last night, and Cristina Gallego & Ciro Guerra’s Birds of Passage, which opened the 50th Directors’ Fortnight this morning.

 

Reference

Williams, Blake. “Cannes 2018 Dispatch #1: Everybody Knows, Birds of Passage.” Filmmaker Magazine, https://filmmakermagazine.com/105310-cannes-2018-dispatch-1-everybody-knows-birds-of-passage/.

Tasting Tea and Filming Tea: The Filmmaker’s Engaged Sensory Experience

Exploring the sense of taste with ethnographic film is challenging because the nature of taste is hard to record, describe, and remember, and also because film is restricted to recording just image and sound. Based on the author’s experience in tasting tea and making films about tea in China, this article discusses the importance of incorporating the sensory experience of the filmmaker in exploring and representing the taste sensation. It argues that film can go beyond the limit of describing taste with words to represent and evoke the sense of taste, specifically through the filmmaker’s embodied experience. Through active engagement with the sensory environment, film also generates new anthropological knowledge, linking the sensory experience of the filmmaker, the subject, and the viewer more closely.

 

Reference

Zhang, J. (2017). Tasting Tea and Filming Tea: The Filmmaker’s Engaged Sensory Experience. Visual Anthropology Review, 33(2), 141-151.

Experimental Film Cinema


This article focuses on voices that are heard in Finnish documentaries. In this context, the concept of voice indicates different points of view and expressions which are present in a film. In addition to the voice of the film-maker, the voices of subjects comprise essential components of documentaries. Voices are created in the complicated film-making process. In a way, this consists of a game between intentions, plans and openness, a tension between the financing institutions and the film-maker’s ideals of freedom. These tensions and games imply that several voices can find their ways into finalised films: for instance, the voices of financiers and institutions, but also the voices of history and myths. Because several voices appear in documentary films and impact the film-making process at the same time, documentary films can be considered through the metaphor of choric expression. The concept of Bakhtinian polyphony is used to understand the present state of the documentary film in general and Finnish documentary film in particular

Inclusive Sensory Ethnography: Studying New Media and Neurodiversity in Everyday Life

Media and communication studies has recently begun to ethnographically explore the sensory dimensions of how individuals experience and perceive technology. This turn toward the sensorial has centered primarily on the five “external” senses (sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste) and less so on “internal” vestibular and proprioceptive systems that concern bodily spatial positioning. I propose inclusive sensory ethnography to account for greater neurodiversity in how humans process sensory input, as well as a fuller range of multi-sensory encounters with new media. I ground this conceptualization in a qualitative study of young children on the autism spectrum with difficulties processing sensory information and their social engagements with print, screen, and interactive media. Inclusive sensory ethnography reveals novel understandings of how the internal senses shape and are shaped by mediated relationships, practices, and intimacies. I discuss further implications for how disability and inclusive sensory ethnography can enrich the study of everyday technology use.

 

Reference

Alper, Meryl. “Inclusive Sensory Ethnography: Studying New Media and Neurodiversity in Everyday Life.” New Media & Society, vol. 20, no. 10, Oct. 2018, pp. 3560–79

Ethnographic Films: Supporting Visual Assignments

Earlier this spring, our Center supported a graduate course in ethnographic research methods. The students were assigned to make short ethnographic digital films informed by a theory they had encountered in the course. The instructor wanted to introduce them to current film projects that embrace more experimental approaches to work in the discipline. I was intrigued by this opportunity to address visual argument beyond the familiar topics of slide design, poster design, and data presentation; ours is a relatively new center (we opened in 2012) and supporting visual communication is an important part of our mission…

 

Reference

Ambrose, Josh. “Ethnographic Films: Supporting Visual Assignments.” Connecting Writing Centers Across Borders (CWCAB), 3 Feb. 2016, https://www.wlnjournal.org/blog/2016/02/ethnographic-films-a-different-kind-of-workshop/.

After World War II the research film increasingly became instrumental in medical science and cultural anthropology, especially in the recording and analysis of non-recurring events in isolated or “primitive” communities. Ambitiously, Carleton Gajdusek and Richard Sorenson in the 1960s sought to accumulate a global film archive of such communities, focusing on clinical disorders, such as kuru among the Fore people of New Guinea, and patterns of child health and development. Ostensibly objective, and certainly distancing, the camera also was for them a desiring machine, thus relating their archival project to the contemporary experimental films of Warhol in New York. Comparison with associated documentary film, with its emphasis on editorial selection, thematic coherence and narrative closure, reveals differences in how filmic investigators engage with their subjects, as well as discordances in valuation and ethics.

Filming Fore, Shooting Scientists: Medical Research, Experimental Filmmaking, and Documentary Cinema

After World War II the research film increasingly became instrumental in medical science and cultural anthropology, especially in the recording and analysis of non-recurring events in isolated or “primitive” communities. Ambitiously, Carleton Gajdusek and Richard Sorenson in the 1960s sought to accumulate a global film archive of such communities, focusing on clinical disorders, such as kuru among the Fore people of New Guinea, and patterns of child health and development. Ostensibly objective, and certainly distancing, the camera also was for them a desiring machine, thus relating their archival project to the contemporary experimental films of Warhol in New York. Comparison with associated documentary film, with its emphasis on editorial selection, thematic coherence and narrative closure, reveals differences in how filmic investigators engage with their subjects, as well as discordances in valuation and ethics.

 

Reference

Anderson, Warwick. “Filming Fore, Shooting Scientists: Medical Research, Experimental Filmmaking, and Documentary Cinema.” Visual Anthropology, vol. 32, no. 2, Mar. 2019, pp. 109–27.

As film making and viewing increasingly become identified with digital media — storage in bits and invisible streams that manifest as cinematic experiences in our classrooms, theaters and living rooms — it is easy to lose track of the concrete materials, processes and spaces that make these viewing experiences possible. Easy, that is, unless your job requires exactly that, keeping track of the many and varied materials that exist behind the scenes of a large and growing film catalog. This has been one aspect of my job since 2011, when I started at Documentary Educational Resources (DER), one of the most historically important resources for ethnographic film in the world today. I started with the belief that my role would be to bring DER into the age of digital, networked media, and I was quickly drawn into another world entirely. It is a world of 16 mm and 35 mm film elements in cans — camera originals, preprint materials and projection-ready distribution prints — sound recordings, production logs, journals and tape masters in every format imaginable.

 

Jean Rouch’s Moi, Un Noir in the French New Wave

This article highlights the significance of Jean Rouch’s experimental ethnographic film Moi, un Noir (1958) in the genesis of the quintessential New Wave film, À bout de souffle (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960), taking seriously the idea expressed by several critics of the time that À bout de souffle was an ethnography of French youth. Following a close reading of Moi, un Noir and comparative readings of Moi, un Noir, À bout de souffle, and their French reception, the author briefly highlights Rouch’s influence on the other key film of the New Wave, Les 400 coups (François Truffaut, 1959). Rouch’s influence on the two emblematic films of the New Wave is particularly significant in light of his own turn, after years filming in France’s sub-Saharan African colonies, to making several films in metropolitan France. The central aim of this article is to elucidate the role of Rouch in the New Wave. An ancillary aim is to show that Moi, un Noir and À bout de souffle mark two key points in a striking shift in the cutting-edge French cinema of the late 1950s and 1960s: a growing inclination to survey metropolitan France as a suddenly exotic space, and to conceive of the French as viable ethnographic subjects.

 

Reference

Astourian, Laure. “Jean Rouch’s Moi, Un Noir in the French New Wave.” Studies in French Cinema, vol. 18, no. 3, July 2018, pp. 252–66.

For two decades now, David MacDougall’s films on children in India have explored one of anthropology’s central concerns: how do we represent difference and different ways of inhabiting the world, without flattening others to refracted mirror images of our own selves? Indeed, in describing children as one of anthropology’s last tribes, MacDougall has made his interest in this problem explicit. He asks: how do we represent the time of childhood, without describing children as primitive, half-formed versions of our adult selves? Yet, at the same time, how do we engage children as bearers of a sophisticated intellectual curiosity in their own right? Delhi At Eleven develops MacDougall’s visual experimentation with this problem in a fascinating new direction.

The Flesh of The Perceptible’: The New Materialism of Leviathan

This article seeks to entangle two current philosophic praxes: New Materialism, and Sensory Ethnography. Jane Bennett has become one of New Materialism’s most prominent proponents since the release of her now-seminal text, Vibrant Matter in 2010. Due to the varied ground upon which New Materialism stands (often conflated with object-oriented ontology, post-humanism, and other general turns within nonhumanism), Bennett’s work will be looked at idiosyncratically, then pushed into the realm of the cinematic via an analysis of the documentary, Leviathan. Directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel, this film was among the first exemplary works to emerge from the Sensory Ethnography Lab, based at Harvard University. In striving for a revitalization of ethnographic film practices, the Lab aligns itself with similarly non-anthropocentric, and nondiscursive, aspects of experience to the New Materialism of Jane Bennett. By placing these two contemporary camps into conversation, this article intends to reposition them both: New Materialism as a vehicle for the Sensory Ethnographic, and the SEL as an exhibition of the kind of world Bennett’s philosophy envisages. The article concludes with an assessment of the political and eco-political critiques and ramifications surrounding these works.

 

Reference

Bowens, Max. “‘The Flesh of The Perceptible’: The New Materialism of Leviathan.” Film-Philosophy, vol. 22, no. 3, Oct. 2018, pp. 428–47.

Sensuous Ethnography

Brunner-Sung features filmmaker Chick Strand. Sensuous, deeply felt, rigorous, uncompromising — the work of Strand belongs in the canon of avant-garde cinema alongside that of her contemporaries Stan Brakhage and Bruces Baillie. As co-founder with Baillie of the floating cinematheque’ Canyon Cinema in 1961, Strand helped create an audience for experimental filmmakers, which she maintained over 24 years as a professor in Los Angeles. Her own mastery of poetic abstraction, found footage and lyrical ethnography make her filmography one of the most dynamic and distinctive of an era. An anthropology student who went onto study ethnographic film, Strand is most often associated with work documenting the people she encountered in Mexico, in and around the town of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato. For years she spent her summers there, always with a 16 mm camera in hand: among the many portraits she created before her death in 2009 are Anselmo (1967), Woman of a Thousand Fires (1978), Fake Fruit Factory (1986) and Senora con flores (1995/2011). The 1971 film Mosori Monika, which considers the relationship between missionaries and native Waraos in Venezuela, exemplifies Strand’s signature, intimate style: caressing movements and features in close-up, pulling viewers in with a telescoped lens, incorporating the subject’s thoughts via voiceover narration.

 

Reference

Brunner-Sung, Vera. “Sensuous Ethnography.” Sight and Sound; London, Dec. 2015, 53.

In this new anthology, Experimental Film and Anthropology, Arnd Schneider and Caterina Pasqualino have brought together an innovative collection of works that challenge a number of anthropological premises through the exploration of the many and varied techniques of experimental film. These challenges include disrupting notions of realist-observational narrative (that have been privileged in the canon works of visual anthropology), encouraging the deeper involvement of audience by provoking experiences and encounters, overcoming the separation between actor and spectator and reconciling objective and subjective time. Each contributor includes stills from the films and/or visual material referenced in the text. These stills successfully illustrate specific filmic techniques as they are being discussed. Occasionally, stills are included of the filmmaker in situ or of a particular cultural practice being described. For those readers with the time and access, full filmographies and a listing of video installations are included in each chapter.

American Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary: The Cambridge Turn/Avant-Doc: Intersections of Documentary & Avant-Garde Cinema

While he acknowledges that documentary and avant-garde have co-existed in cinema from the start (from Eadweard Muybridge’s and Étienne-Jules Marey’s protocinematic visual studies of animal motion to city symphonies to visual experimentations by Joris Ivens and many others), he champions the development of lightweight cameras and portable audio equipment in the 1950s as an opportunity for both cinéma-vérité innovation and the expansion of avant-garde movements.

 

Reference

Cummings, Doug. “American Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary: The Cambridge Turn/Avant-Doc: Intersections of Documentary & Avant-Garde Cinema.” The Spectator; Los Angeles, Fall 2016

In this article I argue that using past films as found footage has benefited the documentary filmmaker in the production of experimental films. The use of found footage may be easily replicated using digital technology and re-edited into new work and offers opportunities to expand filmic discourse beyond the single text; the continuing expansion of screens, formats and digital technologies affords opportunities for experimentation with diverse screens and screening spaces. Using past films as found footage may also circumvent difficulties in obtaining funding to produce new films or in the purchase of archive material. To amplify my discussion I carry out qualitative analyses of my own film [My Private Life II. 2015. UK. High Ground Films. Directed by Jill Daniels. https://vimeo.com/139077147.] and Chantal Akerman’s found footage films which resonate with my own practice on auto-ethnography and exploration of memory and contested identity.

Sensory Autoethnography: Engaging the Senses, Emotions and Autobiographical Narrative towards a Transformative Pedagogical Practice in Higher Education

By combining the sensorial and narrative ways of knowing, I consider sensory embodied experiences and autobiographical narrative as a means of producing ‘academic knowledge’, as described in Sarah Pink’s Doing Sensory Ethnography (2015). Sensory embodied experiences and autobiographical narrative not only expose us to the life of the researcher, but also to a culture and to those being researched and how they are making and remaking meaning. In this article, I explore my use of a reflexive approach and my autobiographical narrative to tell the story of my experiences of Caribbean diaspora festive culture and tradition in the United Kingdom. I consider my sensory embodied experiences in both culture and academia, seeking to discover the making of self in culture and academia.

 

Reference

de Matas, Réa. “Sensory Autoethnography: Engaging the Senses, Emotions and Autobiographical Narrative towards a Transformative Pedagogical Practice in Higher Education.” Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, vol. 12, no. 1/2, Apr. 2019, pp. 167–80.

Do We Even Need to Define Ethnographic Film?

Before this year I never felt the need to come up with a clear definition for what counts as an “ethnographic film.” Constructing better pigeonholes only seems to be of use to the gatekeepers who get to decide which films count and which do not. I still think that’s true, but this year I became one of those gatekeepers! As programmer for the 2017 Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival I suddenly found myself needing to articulate some kind of working definition that could be communicated to filmmakers, distributors, festival judges, etc. so that everyone understood what did or did not count as an “ethnographic film” for the purpose of this festival. I failed.

 

Reference

Do We Even Need to Define Ethnographic Film? | Savage Minds. /2017/07/20/do-we-even-need-to-define-ethnographic-film/.

Decolonizing Documentary On-Screen and Off: Sensory Ethnography and the Aesthetics of Accountability

The article discusses the work of the Sensory Ethnography Lab (SEL), a joint venture between the Visual and Environmental Studies and Anthropology departments at Harvard University. According to the author, SEL projects embraced the spirit and practice of collaboration on all aspects of filmmaking. Documentary films including ”Sweetgrass” (2009) by Lucien Castaing-Taylor; ”Leviathan” (2012) by Véréna Paravel and J .P. Sniadecki, and ”Manakamana”(2013), by Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez are discussed.

 

Reference

Ginsburg, Faye. “Decolonizing Documentary On-Screen and Off: Sensory Ethnography and the Aesthetics of Accountability.” Film Quarterly, vol. 72, no. 1, Sept. 2018, pp. 39–49.

The Essential I/Eye in We: A Black TransFeminist Approach to Ethnographic Film

This essay is a criti­cal and creative meditation on the process of making my ethnographic film It Gets Messy in Here (2011), a thirty-two minute short documentary that examines the experiences of Black and Asian Ameri­can transgender men and masculine of center queer women in public bathrooms. This essay explicates a Trans* and TransFeminist approach to filmmaking, a transformative film praxis that has the ability to move people to a higher level of self-consciousness about their place in the world and the systems that produce that place. This essay explores an inter-subjective and self-­reflexive approach to scholarship in hopes that it might produce new knowledge about and for the communities being studied, but also new epistemological platforms for that very knowledge.

 

Reference

Green, Kai M. “The Essential I/Eye in We: A Black TransFeminist Approach to Ethnographic Film.” Black Camera, vol. 6, no. 2, 2015, p. 187.

How It Happened

Camera and filmmaker are invited into group therapy sessions in which soldiers recount, at length, the traumas they have experienced; we then look on as the same men try to adjust to normal lives that may never feel normal again. Thanks to Sniadecki’s snaking camera and Ernst Karel’s predictably ace sound design (the film begins with several minutes of avant-jazzlike rail screeching over a black screen), it’s a worthy addition to the Sensory Ethnography Lab’s deepening hard-rock catalog.

 

Reference

Hynes, Eric. “How It Happened.” Film Comment; New York, vol. 52, no. 1, Feb. 2016, pp. 20–21.

The Tour: A Film About Longyearbyen, Svalbard. An Interview with Eva La Cour

The Tour is a video montage produced as part of a thesis on Media and Visual Anthropology at the Freie Universität in Berlin, based on fieldwork in Longyearbyen on Svalbard in 2011 – a Norwegian archipelago in the High Arctic. Here I focused on a set of research questions around the relationship between lived and projected realities on Svalbard, which I sought to explore among a group of taxi drivers and by working as a taxi driver myself.

 

Reference

Ihle, Johanne Haaber. “The Tour: A Film About Longyearbyen, Svalbard. An Interview with Eva La Cour.” Films on Ice, edited by Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, pp. 255–60.

From Dreamland to Homeland: A Journey Toward Futures Different Than Pasts

This chapter provides an artists-scholars’ reflection on the experience of and inspiration behind the making of an essayistic documentary for the twenty-first century: Dreamland by Britt Kramvig and Rachel Andersen Gomez (Norway, 2016). Depicting people, places, and events in Sápmi, the film melds past and present. A line from the poem “Dream-Land” (1844) by Edgar Allan Poe inspired the film’s title, signaling the purposeful interweaving of multiple influences, traditions, and paradigms. The film is conceived as a theoretical and aesthetic intervention, featuring an Indigenous anthropologist performing as an “earthling”, that is, a figure committed to telling new stories…

 

Reference

Kramvig, Britt, and Rachel Andersen Gomez. “From Dreamland to Homeland: A Journey Toward Futures Different Than Pasts.” Arctic Cinemas and the Documentary Ethos, edited by Lilya Kaganovsky et al., Indiana University Press, 2019, pp. 322–34.

Embodied Visual Meaning in Film

This chapter presents an embodied account of visual meaning-making in cinema. Borrowing insights from cognitive linguistics, and in particular Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT), we intend to show how film is an exemplary case of embodied, immanent meaning. What do we mean when we say that the meaning of particular visual features in film is grounded in sensory-motor experience? And what role do image schemas play in the conveyance of abstract thought in film? These are some of the questions that we are going to address in this chapter. We start our essay with a brief discussion and criticism of the traditional conceptual view of meaning according to which meaning is considered solely as a property of language. Secondly, we show how an embodied view of meaning offers an alternative to the propositional view of meaning. We conclude our contribution with an analysis of two examples of embodied visual meaning in cinema. More specifically, we demonstrate how image schemas serve as important solutions to the problem of how to represent abstract concepts in film.

 

Reference

Kravanja, Peter, and Maarten Coëgnarts. Embodied Visual Meaning in Film. 2015, pp. 63–80.

The Balinese Cockfight Reimagined: Tajen: Interactive and the Prospects for a Multimodal Anthropology

An essay which documents a film project highlighting the iterative and creative process involved in the anthropological study of “tajen,” or the Balinese cockfight, is presented. Topics covered include the nonfiction narrative storytelling approach similar to sensory ethnography used in the film, techniques used in shooting for the film, immersion in the world of cockfighting and using the process of ethnographic observation and interviewing and the process of making Tajen: Interactive.

 

Reference

Lemelson, Robert, and Briana Young. “The Balinese Cockfight Reimagined: Tajen: Interactive and the Prospects for a Multimodal Anthropology.” American Anthropologist, vol. 120, no. 4, Dec. 2018, pp. 831–43.

States of trance and spirit possession have inspired the modernist imagination perhaps more than anything else, as they typically exceed the limits of visual representation. This article investigates different approaches to coping with these challenges, focusing on the works of a group of Italian documentary filmmakers, including Luigi di Gianni, Cecilia Mangini, and Gianfranco Mingozzi, who used a novel set of audiovisual techniques to explore ecstatic religious expressions in southern Italy in the postwar years. I look into the processes through which trance and possession rituals (e.g. Apulian tarantism) themselves have inspired and initiated innovations in audiovisual documentation by means of combining-or blurring the boundaries between-ethnographic and experimental modes of cinematic practice. Through highly stylized image/sound compositions including high-contrast lighting, wood-cut like silhouettes, montage, abstract sound effects and poetic, partly fictionalized commentary, as well as by consciously making use of re-enactments and staged encounters, these films contest both the realist-observational narrative and the focus on individuals otherwise prevalent in ethnographic filmmaking. Reading the Italian films against the backdrop of the earlier and contemporaneous, yet much better-known trance films of Maya Deren and Jean Rouch, the article argues that their antirealist audiovisual aesthetic fabricates a social aesthetic that raises sensitivity to human experience and fosters a radically humanist stance.

Leviathan, an experimental ethnographic film by Castaing‐Taylor and Paravel, is groundbreaking. By decoupling voice from any stable narrative perspective, it allows the viewer to be made over by a world beyond the human. It is, we argue, a form of dreaming—a modality of attention that can open us to the beings with whom we share this fragile planet. As such, Leviathan gestures to a sort of ontological poetics and politics for the so‐called Anthropocene.

Websites


Director/DP Luke Lorentzen on Making Midnight Family as a Solo Shooter (with Two Cameras)

In Mexico City, there are only 45 publicly operated ambulances for a population of nine-million-plus, creating a need filled by private labor. Luke Lorentzen, whose first feature New York Cuts premiered at IDFA in 2015, embedded himself with one privately operated ambulance run as a family business, tagging along night after night. Operating as his own shooter for Midnight Family, Lorentzen’s sophomore feature is a formally controlled, sympathetically embedded portrait of multiple instances of economic inequity (with car chases!). Via email, the director/DP spoke to the challenges of operating two cameras as a solo shooter, depending on Mexico City’s existing nighttime light and using only one prime lens.

 

Reference

“Director/DP Luke Lorentzen on Making Midnight Family as a Solo Shooter (with Two Cameras).” Filmmaker Magazine, https://filmmakermagazine.com/106823-director-dp-luke-lorentzen-on-making-midnight-family-as-a-solo-shooter-with-two-cameras/.

Ethnographic Films: Supporting Visual Assignments

Earlier this spring, our Center supported a graduate course in ethnographic research methods. The students were assigned to make short ethnographic digital films informed by a theory they had encountered in the course. The instructor wanted to introduce them to current film projects that embrace more experimental approaches to work in the discipline. I was intrigued by this opportunity to address visual argument beyond the familiar topics of slide design, poster design, and data presentation; ours is a relatively new center (we opened in 2012) and supporting visual communication is an important part of our mission…

 

Reference

Ambrose, Josh. “Ethnographic Films: Supporting Visual Assignments.” Connecting Writing Centers Across Borders (CWCAB), 3 Feb. 2016, https://www.wlnjournal.org/blog/2016/02/ethnographic-films-a-different-kind-of-workshop/.

Unknown Continents: A Conversation with Authors Patricia Zimmermann and Scott MacDonald

More than an anniversary reflection, The Flaherty is an opportunity to revisit the critical debates that shaped film at some of the most crucial junctures of its history. As seen in the history of the organization, and often as a direct result of the seminar itself, the past 60 years were the ones in which documentary, avant-garde, and independent film emerged as powerful cultural forces in their own right. Outside of commercial cinema, these types of films were undoubtedly new and provocative—little wonder that they generated such heated discussions. In today’s embattled moment, when the forms and institutions of cinema have profoundly changed, and when the call for the arts to respond to the troubled political landscape has grown louder and more urgent, The Flaherty allows the reader to reconsider the struggles of the past: to follow, to learn from, and perhaps, to be newly inspired by them.

 

Reference

Baer, Genevieve. “Unknown Continents: A Conversation with Authors Patricia Zimmermann and Scott MacDonald.” Film Quarterly, 18 Sept. 2017, https://filmquarterly.org/2017/09/18/unknown-continents-a-conversation-with-authors-patricia-zimmermann-and-scott-macdonald/.

Archiveology

Nicholas Baer interviews Catherine Russell about her new book Archiveology: Walter Benjamin and Archival Film Practices.

 

Reference

Baer, Nicholas. “Archiveology.” Film Quarterly, 1 Mar. 2018, https://filmquarterly.org/2018/03/01/archiveology/.

Do We Even Need to Define Ethnographic Film?

Before this year I never felt the need to come up with a clear definition for what counts as an “ethnographic film.” Constructing better pigeonholes only seems to be of use to the gatekeepers who get to decide which films count and which do not. I still think that’s true, but this year I became one of those gatekeepers! As programmer for the 2017 Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival I suddenly found myself needing to articulate some kind of working definition that could be communicated to filmmakers, distributors, festival judges, etc. so that everyone understood what did or did not count as an “ethnographic film” for the purpose of this festival. I failed.

 

Reference

Do We Even Need to Define Ethnographic Film? | Savage Minds. /2017/07/20/do-we-even-need-to-define-ethnographic-film/.

New Directors/New Films 2019 Critic’s Notebook: The Chambermaid, Midnight Family, Honeyland

Labor was a theme binding many selections at this year’s New Directors/New Films, which concluded this past weekend at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art. That feels timely, in the wake of the success enjoyed and debates sparked by Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, about a loyal mestiza housekeeper and nanny caring for a well-off Mexico City family, and the high-profile arrival in the U.S. House of Representatives of progressive firebrand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a proud former waitress whose working class roots have rattled the Fox News crowd. Not that world cinema attends to trending topics, but surely film curators do, and for American audiences right now such films can provoke something more meaningful than the pro-wrestling-level tirades that pass for social discourse in the national news media.

 

Reference

Dollar, Steve. “New Directors/New Films 2019 Critic’s Notebook: The Chambermaid, Midnight Family, Honeyland.” Filmmaker Magazine, https://filmmakermagazine.com/107357-new-directors-new-films-2019-critics-notebook-the-chambermaid-midnight-family-honeyland/.

Beyond the Boundaries of Language

In recent memory, there’s been a never-ending deluge of bad news for the arts and humanities in the U.S.: government support, which is already low, may be cut entirely; universities, facing budget crises, have axed language and arts programs; prominent professors spend their time writing books defending the basic value of humanistic inquiry, while their pecuniary graduate students fight for poverty wages as adjuncts, and earn a little money on the side writing articles about their plight.

 

Reference

Grimaldi, Carmine. “Beyond the Boundaries of Language.” Filmmaker Magazine, https://filmmakermagazine.com/102727-beyond-the-boundaries-of-language/.

The Four Dimensions of Ethnographic Films

In my last post I argued that rather than choosing between overly narrow “closed” or overly broad “open” definitions of ethnographic film, it would be better to follow Uberto Eco’s model of listing a “family of resemblances.” This would consist of a list of features that make a film “ethnographic” but without any two ethnographic films necessarily sharing the exact same list of features. When I wrote that I had a draft list of about sixteen features I had been working on.

 

Reference

Kerim. The Four Dimensions of Ethnographic Films | Savage Minds. //https://savageminds.org/2017/07/26/the-four-dimensions-of-ethnographic-films/.

News Sharing in Social Media: A Review of Current Research on News Sharing Users, Content, and Networks

This article provides a review of scientific, peer-reviewed articles that examine the relationship between news sharing and social media in the period from 2004 to 2014. A total of 461 articles were obtained following a literature search in two databases (Communication & Mass Media Complete [CMMC] and ACM), out of which 109 were deemed relevant based on the study’s inclusion criteria. In order to identify general tendencies and to uncover nuanced findings, news sharing research was analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively. Three central areas of research—news sharing users, content, and networks—were identified and systematically reviewed. In the central concluding section, the results of the review are used to provide a critical diagnosis of current research and suggestions on how to move forward in news sharing research.

 

Reference

Kümpel, Anna Sophie, et al. “News Sharing in Social Media: A Review of Current Research on News Sharing Users, Content, and Networks.” Social Media + Society, vol. 1, no. 2, July 2015

Scouting the Past: A Conversation with Priya Jaikumar on Where Histories Reside: India as Filmed Space

Kartik Nair in conversation with Priya Jaikumar about her new book, Where Histories Reside: India as Filmed Space.

 

Reference

Nair, Kartik. “Scouting the Past: A Conversation with Priya Jaikumar on Where Histories Reside: India as Filmed Space.” Film Quarterly, 10 Sept. 2019, https://filmquarterly.org/2019/09/10/scouting-the-past-a-conversation-with-priya-jaikumar-on-where-histories-reside-india-as-filmed-space/.

Visual Anthropology in Sardinia: Interview with Silvio Carta

Silvio Carta completed his PhD in Italian Studies at the University of Birmingham. His articles and reviews have appeared in Visual Anthropology, Visual Anthropology Review, Visual Studies, Visual Ethnography, and Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies, among other publications. To find out more about his book Visual Anthropology in Sardinia, Film Matters conducted a Q & A with Carta via email correspondence (June-July 2015).

 

Reference

Warpoole, Kailyn N. Visual Anthropology in Sardinia: Interview with Silvio Carta. By Kailyn N. Warpole | Film Matters Magazine. https://www.filmmattersmagazine.com/2015/09/21/visual-anthropology-in-sardinia-interview-with-silvio-carta-by-kailyn-n-warpole/.

Cannes 2018 Dispatch #1: Everybody Knows, Birds of Passage

One’s valuation of a film—really, any piece of art—is inseparable from the conditions in which it was experienced. The time of day or overall mood and health at the time of the screening (or link-watching) inform my appreciation of a movie just as much as anything else (save for aesthetic preference and sensibility, perhaps), and this extends to festival contexts—to the ways a film participates in the narrative arc of the nine or ten or twelve days of the event, to the impatience stemming from a lack of masterpieces (or good movies, period), and so on. I bring this up to provide some reference for why I might have been especially ill-positioned to receive my first two movies of this year’s Cannes: Asghar Farhadi’s Everybody Knows, which opened the Official Selection last night, and Cristina Gallego & Ciro Guerra’s Birds of Passage, which opened the 50th Directors’ Fortnight this morning.

 

Reference

Williams, Blake. “Cannes 2018 Dispatch #1: Everybody Knows, Birds of Passage.” Filmmaker Magazine, https://filmmakermagazine.com/105310-cannes-2018-dispatch-1-everybody-knows-birds-of-passage/.