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Ep 9: انثروبولوجي بالعربي: عن حلقة الوصل؟

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Hi! May it please the coronavirus, let’s talk about something that’s important to the people who like to learn about visual Anthropology; photography and films. Today’s episode will be special since we will have our first guest, Ali Zaraay; the visual Anthropologist. The way we do research in Anthropology, whether written or filmed, is different than this of other fields. You may remember from the 2nd episode that the research method is “Ethnography”. Which includes observation, participation, and in most cases for a very long term; i.e. years. Where the Anthropologist goes deeply into the community he studies and tries to understand their culture. One may ask, how easy is it to get that deep into the community? It’s not that easy. The trick is in a person, sometimes called “informant” while and others call him a “collaborator”. In films, generally called a “broker”. We can say he is the Anthropologist’s right hand. A person from the studies society, and a mediator between the Anthropologist and the Society. Through him, the Anthropologist/Photographer starts to earn the society’s trust so he/she can then live with them. That person is as important as the Anthropologist himself. And becomes the Story’s Protagonist. A very useful book about this topic is called “In The Company of a Man: 20 Portraits by Anthropologists" It contains a written portrait about the collaborator’s relation with the Anthropologist. He gives 20 examples from many different countries. A link to the book is added below, so you can learn more about the importance of this relation to the research or the film. And what motivates a man to cooperate with the anthropologist. I asked Ali these questions in the interview to know about his study’s main character and his Anthropology project. Would you tell us about your project? My project is about the Nomadic Bedouin Tribes in the East Delta region. Some of them are still travelling with their tents between different lands. Firstly, I worked on many Bedouin tribes. But now, I’m trying to work on a specific family which I chose and they chose me too since 2015. A friendship started to grow and we started to speak a lot about the project. The family you’re talking about is Haj Hany’s family? Yes. I started to work with Hany and his wife; Ghalia since 2015, discussing issues through this family, like; education, healthcare, and travelling. Hany is really helpful and any things appear during the journey. This year, Hany had a new child; Asmaa. Throughout time, I see many developments, other families through Hany, and Stories from Hajja Ghazal; Hany’s mother, about his father, his dreams, the kid’s dreams, since many of the Bedouins don’t have the chance to go to school because of their continuous travels. That was Hany’s fate as it is for his child. He tries to take his kids to schools, yet he fails. That’s what I see while documenting the journey. Could you imagine that this project could have been done without Hany? Hany is like everything in my project. He is the main reason that I keep working for five years now. Without him, The project would have been exhausting to me. There is always a partition between me, the Anthropologist, and the community I am getting into to document. I am an outsider who wants something. Since I want to be around, I need the one who will introduce me to his community, so I can visit them frequently. There is chemistry between us and we spend quality time with each other. He is like a friend now. For some Anthropologists, the collaborator is like a researcher since he works closely with him. Do you think Haj Hany, by now, knows who and what do you want to document? Actually, many of what I photographed or documented was Hany’s suggestions. I was interested in documentation weddings, then he suggests; what about documenting the Bedouin graves? and where they bury the deceased? How they deal with death Since he sometimes travels with the dead body to bury it in their specific place faraway. Which is against the customs and traditions “Burial is an honour to the dead”. He was telling me about the important events and meetings all the time and invites me too. For a long time, I was documenting livestock markets, then he notified me to other kinds of markets. All the time, he continuously suggests new ideas, like the current name of the project; “Qwesina, a sweet memory”. And he was the reason that enlightened me to look into the archive, to document events that are hard to photograph now. We started to see his and his grandparents’ old pictures. He doesn't like the new law that prohibits the Bedouins to be armed. He sees that that’s not safe for them since they travel a lot. His grandparents had licenced guns to protect their livestock. He showed me pictures of his father with a gun in their tent. That enlightened me to think about the current changes that happen in their lifestyle; clothes, appearance, or any other thing I can find through that archive. It was not only photos, but I also found letters and autographs. This was very Important to inspire me to think differently! Thank you Ali! I hope this will be useful to whoever thinks about doing similar projects and this also shows the importance of the “collaborator” from the local community. Thank you.

Video Details

Duration: 7 minutes
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
Genre: None
Views: 2
Posted by: farahhallaba on May 1, 2020

في اغلب ابحاث او افلام الانثروبولوجي بيكون في #بطل للقصة، حلقة #وصل بين المجتمع و الانثروبولوجيست. دوره بيختلف من بحث لبحث و من مشروع للتاني بس بيفضل مهم جدا. الحلقة النهاردة مع #علي_زرعي، بيحكي عن مشروعه المصور عن البدو الرُحل في مصر و دور بطل القصة بتاعته، عم هاني.

Book:" In Company of a Man, 20 Portraits by Anthropologists" :
Ali's Website:

#انثروبولوجي #تصوير #علي_زرعي #وصل #المجتمع# #Anthropology #Informant #Collaboration

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