WEEK 1 ETHNO-GRAPHIC FILM
Screening: Photo Wallahs. (Judith MacDougall, David MacDougall. 60 min. 1992.)
This week we shall consider the question of what makes a film ‘ethnographic’ and explore the possible relationships between film and anthropology as an academic discipline. We will debate whether, as filmmaker Tim Asch claimed, the 16mm movie camera is to the anthropologist what the telescope is to the astronomer, and the microscope is to the biologist.
WEEK 2 THE POLITICS OF REPRESENTATION
Screening: Nanook of the North (Robert Flaherty, 79 min. 1922)
This week we will explore issues raised by the classic film Nanook of the North and begin to discuss issues of representation and those concerned with the relationship between filmmakers and their subjects. In examining the idea of an ‘ethnographic present’ and Rony’s notion of ‘taxidermy’ in film, we will consider the implications of filmmakers and anthropologists representing the past as the present.
WEEK 3 IDEAS OF PRIMITIVE SOCIETY
Screening: Dead Birds (Robert Gardner, 84 min. 1963)
This week we will explore ideas about ‘primitive society’ provoked by Gardner’s film Dead Birds and in anthropology more generally. We will also question the extent to which a film’s narrative and the aesthetic choices made by the filmmaker can be reconciled with the priorities of academic anthropologists.
WEEK 4 INTERPRETATION AND CONTROVERSY
Screening: Les Maîtres Fous ‘The Mad Masters’ (Jean Rouch, 36 min. 1955)
This week we will discuss the controversial French ethnographic film ‘Les Maîtres Fous’ by Jean Rouch. The film is credited with establishing a new genre of ethnographic film and was banned by both French and colonial authorities when it was first released. It raises questions of consent and interpretation – how voyeuristic is the film? Do the participants really give their consent to be portrayed in this way? Is it fair to expect an audience to be unsettled? What is the purpose of the film? It will also help us to think about the life history (or ‘biography’) of a film over time.
WEEK 5 FIGHTING ABOUT REALITY
Screening: The Ax Fight (T. Asch and N. Chagnon, 30 min. 1971)
The Ax Fight and the anthropologists involved in its making have provoked considerable controversy since the film was made in the 1970s. This week we examine some of these controversies and the complex reality that is seen in the film itself and in the web of social relationships that surrounded its making, production and publicity. We will also question the ethics of filmmaking and ethnographic representation more generally.
WEEK 6 THE COLONIAL ENCOUNTER
Screening: Trobriand Cricket (J. W. Leach and G. Kildea, 54 min. 1973)
This week we will look at representations of what happened to patterns of knowledge and practice during colonial encounters and the implications this can have for anthropological understandings of social change. We will also explore the controversial relationship between colonialism and anthropology as a discipline and the role of film in this relationship.
WEEK 7 ETHNOGRAPHY AND SUBVERSION
Screening: Cannibal Tours (O’Rourke, 70 min. 1988)
This week we will watch Dennis O’Rourke’s film Cannibal Tours as a way of thinking about subversion in ethnographic film. The film will help us to think about what objectification means both for the tourists in the film and for the filmmaker.
WEEK 8 MELISSA LLEWELYN-DAVIES AND THE MASAI
Screening: Maasai Women (Melissa Llewelyn-Davies, 1974) This week we will look at what happens when anthropology is popularised through television and consider the debates this has spawned on issues such as authenticity and the public image of anthropology. We will also examine issues of gender and representation in ethnographic filmmaking.
WEEK 9 'INDIGENOUS MEDIA'
Screening: The Kayapo: Out of the Forest (T. Turner and M. Beckham, 51 min. 1989)
This week we will look at the debates on authority and manipulation spawned by Turner and Beckham’s film The Kayapo. In particular, we will consider the implications of documentary and other films made by indigenous groups traditionally studied by anthropologists. We will raise the question of how indigenous media might change the role of anthropologists in ethnographic filmmaking and in the discipline more generally.
WEEK 10 RETHINKING ETHNOGRAPHIC FILM
Screening: Sweetgrass (Lucien Castaing-Taylor 101 min 2011)
This week we will bring together various strands of discussion from the module and view a film that somehow deals with some of the current trends in ethnographic film such as the so-called corporeal and sensorial turns in anthropology. At the same time, we will explore alternatives possibilities to ethnographic film that the digital revolution offers for the use of audiovisual media in anthropological research.