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Episode 4 Visual Anthropology 101 [Private no Subtitle]

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"Anthropology in Arabic" Today we will discuss "Visual Anthropology" It is ,like I said before, Documentary films and photography that translates the anthropological studies about these cultures. Generally, the interested researcher is also the filmmaker. I want to start with two visual ethnographers that we can describe as "relationship goals"! In the 1960s they studied ethnographic documentary film making And they feel in love, and got married shortly after they graduated. This love story brought to us many documentary films mainly in Africa and Australia. Before going on with their story and work, I want to remind you that Visual Anthropology, is generally done when the anthropologist/filmmaker go to the people he/she wants to study or document and stays with them, enough time that he/she could know enough about them and present them well in his/her films or photography. There is also an important concept called "Reflexivity" And it is important in documentary or in arts in general where the artists and the audience come with their personal histories and perceptions. And this is why when we watch any artwork, each of us perceive it personally and differently. This is also why it makes a different to watch it on your own or in company and with people, followed with a discussion . Back to the love Birds, Judith and David They wrote a lot of articles about documentary filmmaking and visual ethnography They also did a lot of important films. David himself thou says that the difference between the names "visual ethnography" and "documentary films" is blurry. So one could most of the time use them interchangeably. I have listed down some important films done by David and Judith Macdougall. But there is a film I want to specify, which is important and interesting; "Photo Wallahs" Where they explored the cultural and personal meanings of photographs in a hill station in northern India. Before moving on, an Important Word I want to note; If you are a documentarist, PLEASE Don't document your subjects with superiority, do not patronize them, Please! This makes me remind you about next episode "A Culture for Sale" Back to Documentary Filmmaking There are many types of ethnographic documentary films When I say "Ethnography", I depend on that you watched Episode 2 and already know what it is. But in case you do not remember, it is the cultural analysis/description done by an anthropologist. Mainly, some documentary films are Participatory and some are Observational. What? Participatory includes involvement and engagement, there is a presence of the filmmaker, sometimes he/she is featured in the film. And there is a certain narration to the film, via voice over, being featured or editing. This is what an important visual anthropologist do; Jean Rouch He is considered to be the father of visual anthropology - and I listed his films below. Rouch, interestingly, cared a lot about "Reflexivity" that I spoke about earlier in the episode. He even records a feedback session with the subjects documented. as they watch the film, and he adds this segment to the film itself for the public. Similarly, Robert Flaherty, the director of "Nanook of the North" also let Nanook, himself be the first to watch the film. Nanook was the main character of his ethnographic film on indigenous people of Canada. This film is a classic, you should watch if you are interested. It is old, since 1922, but is important! In Participatory filmmaking, the camera is like an extension of the director's eyes. This is why there is an interaction between the subjects and the camera. Because it feels like they are communicating with the filmmaker, and to us, those who watch the film through the filmmaker's or the photographer's eyes. This could be seen in Tahani Rachid's film, In her film "El Banat Dol" "These Girls" which speaks about street girls in Cairo. These girls were speaking to the camera as if they were venting out to us, the audience. Participatory is my favourite, [if you care to know] Then there is the Observational Filmmaking, which is literally the camera just observing. It doesn't feel like an extension of the photographer/filmmaker's eyes anyways, There is no narration, no voice over, or any story commentary from the filmmaker/photographer. He places the camera in a certain position, and we watch what happens. Subjects generally then know that they shouldn't look at or communicate with the camera. There is a film [linked below] and is a good example of observational cinema Which is "Sisters in Law" The directer was filming the stories of humble women in Cameron who were filing divorce/violence cases. One could feel that the camera was put in the court room or the lawyer's office as if it is not there at all. No one looks at it, but we get to see what is happening from away. There is no engagement between subjects and the camera. And then, another type is the "Sensory", used when the filmmaker emphasizes a lot a certain sense, something to be heard, felt or remembered. And this is what is called "Sensory filmmaking" For instance, there is a film called "Leviathan", which attempts to do an ethnography about mass fishing on a big boat that spends nights in the midst of the sea. Here the camera is the farthest to be an extended eye of the filmmaker, or even of a human. In Leviathan, the camera was attached to robes, nets, and even fish boxes that keeps swinging. The film was disturbing to me, but it appealed to others. At the end, it succeeded as a sensory film, some people even left the hall because they felt sea sick. Moreover, there is another interesting kind that was coined by the visual anthropologist Sarah Pibk By the way, she studied in Kent University [Where I study]! This kind is "Walking with video" Which is documenting your subjects as they take the ways they regularly walk through. Pink here tries to appreciate the effect of the people's landscapes on them, and the honest memories and expressions they will kindle in these people. So if you are documenting people who have natural ways they regularly take, or are in constant journey talk these walks with them and record it not necessarily in a very aesthetic way not necessarily in a very aesthetic way

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Posted by: farahhallaba on Dec 16, 2019

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