experimental ethnography2019-11-20T22:10:39+00:00
  • experimental ethnography

Walley, C. (2015). Transmedia as Experimental Ethnography: the Exit Zero Project, Deindustrialization, and the Politics of Nostalgia: Exit Zero: on Transmedia

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.

Russell, C. (2015). Leviathan and the Discourse of Sensory Ethnography: Spleen et idéal.

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.

Kravanja, Peter, and Maarten Coëgnarts. Embodied Visual Meaning in Film.

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.

Jørgensen, Anne Mette. “A Gentle Gaze On The Colony: Jette Bang’s Documentary Filming In Greenland 1938–9.”

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.

Hynes, Eric. “How It Happened.”

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.

Holloway, Caroline Forcier. “Exercise Musk-OX: The Challenges of Filming a Military Expedition in Canada’s Arctic.”

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.