Evolving humanity, emerging worlds
Manchester, UK; 5th-10th August 2013
Establishing academic standards of evaluation for non-literary forms of representation in anthropology
Location Chemistry G.53
Date and Start Time 09 Aug, 2013 at 09:00
The need for proper guidelines to evaluate non-literary forms of representation in anthropology, is directly related to the need for other ways of knowing and communicating about 'the human condition', than through written text
Worldwide, lecturers, research evaluation-commissions and referees for journals and scientific funds are struggling with the absence of proper guidelines for the evaluation of non-literary forms of representation in anthropology. This problem was researched and reported earlier, by Peter Crawford in the NAFA Newsletter of October 2010 (see 'Announcements' on: http://www.cva-iuaes.com/).
It concerns more than a pragmatic problem, it directly touches on the acknowledgement of other kinds of knowledge in anthropology that are communicated through photography, documentary and other non-literary forms of representation as products of what ethnographers do. It is high time that guidelines to assess such forms are developed, in order to enable recognition in academia. Such acknowledgement may even require a redefinition of the discipline from 'a discipline of words' to a 'diverse collection of epistemological practices', united by a common aim, irrespective of the medium employed. A position that was taken earlier in a manifesto written by Henley, MacDougall, Meyknecht, Postma and Ragazzi and published in 2006 (http://www.cva-iuaes.com/).).
The CVA invites all those who are interested in integrating other media then literary forms and their related practices, in anthropology, to contribute to the discussion with a paper, a mediaproduction, or any other product. Other then fixed criteria, we propose to develop sets of points to evaluate the way in which such forms can contribute to anthropological discourse and/or practice, or be seen as an ethnographic product according to related quality standards.
Chair: Metje Postma/Peter Ian Crawford
Discussant: Peter Ian Crawford
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Filmmaking for Fieldwork
This paper will address the need for non-literary forms of representation in anthropology and develop some ideas about how we may assess the quality of work that responds to such a need.
I am a practice-based teacher working at the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology, UK. I teach ethnographic documentary filmmaking practice to MA, MPhil and PhD students and to more established researchers, across the Humanities, on an intensive two-week international summer school. As a filmmaker, I make documentary films distributed by publishers of academic related films and other work by commission.
This paper will address the need for non-literary forms of representation in anthropology and develop some ideas about how we may assess the quality of work that responds to such a need. I hope to show how VA methods can open up new avenues of inquiry that may lead to a greater understanding of the experience of our subjects and thus also contribute to a theoretical anthropology. Some have argued that filmmaking is a non-academic pursuit that is best conducted outside of the University, I will contest this by examining why we use a non-literary approach and suggest ways to evaluate both student and research academic contributions to this burgeoning area of social research. Key to this argument is an evaluation of the aspects of anthropological enquiry that are well addressed by a VA approach and a look at how we teach our students to approach these areas. I am not arguing against written anthropology but for the variety of media available to us in 2013 to be used in a fluid and symbiotic way to produce interesting, appropriate and relevant ethnography.
The Importance of Ethnographic Film/Video/Multi-media in the Development and Assessement of Anthropological Understanding [provisional title]
This paper presents findings based on practical teaching and examining experiences over the past 27 years, including the website and other results from funded research into the assessment of undergraduate video and multimedia projects, and asks if the time has come to define ethnographic film.
This paper presents findings based on a range of practical experiences over the past 27 years: as a documentary student in film school; as module designer and convenor of an undergraduate visual anthropology; as examiner of Visual Anthropology Masters degrees in two British universities; and as a selector and judge at most of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Northern Ireland's International Ethnographic fim festivals, and as a selector at the Göttingen International Ethnographic Film Festival. Questions that have long been with me are whether we should define ethnographic film, and what the criteria for ethnographic as opposed to documentary and/or art film shoud be. This paper will draw on the website and other the results of funded research into the assessment of undergraduate video and multimedia projects to discuss these issues and to argue for the importance of including narrative video projects for undergraduateassessment as well as the now ubiquitous power-point presentations.
Specific digital writing of online social sciences
Filmmaking and sound recordings in social sciences are now academically identified and recognized. However, publishing in the same object films and papers is still difficult for researchers.
Thanks to new digital techniques affordable for the general public, some researchers published their work on private websites or blogs.In such a context, can we still use the word “paper” in its academic acceptance?
Filmmaking and sound recordings in social sciences are now academically identified and recognized (visual and sound anthropology and sociology). However, publishing in the same object films and papers is still difficult for researchers.
In best cases, films, photos, edited sounds are shown in specialized festivals, symposiums or seminars. The luckiest will find an understanding publisher who will add a CD-ROM or DVD to a book.
Some researchers published their work on private websites or blogs, before such and way of publishing was institutionalized. This was made possible thanks to new digital techniques affordable for the general public.
Recently, compared to printed publishing, a few on-line scientific journals such as Ethnographiques.org, Sciences and video, or the most recent ones Anthrovision and Visual Ethnography fill a gap. Thanks to them we can think of a new way of disseminating this kind of studies and open new innovative and creative sciences paths.
In such a context, can we still use the word "paper" in its academic acceptance? Today, do affordable web documentary softwares allow us to realize our creative wishes or, in the contrary, because of programming logics, do they drive us to format even more our scientific production?
From our experiments with the Popcorn software, we'll try to bring some answers, to measure its stakes and possibilities in the aim of promoting our disciplines
Ethnographic Films as Academic Source: Establishing a Usage Guide
This paper discusses the use of ethnographic film as a research source, and how this research can be used in an academic setting.
Visual anthropology as a field has been debating the efficacy of ethnographic films as an academic source for many years. On the one hand anthropologists producing ethnographic films wish their efforts to be viewed as having equal worth to ethnographic texts. On the other, some anthropologists claim that film cannot contain the same knowledge or discussion of theory as text. Within the field of anthropology, ethnographic film has largely been ignored in favour of text in regard to the display of knowledge and theory. One of the problems arising in the above debate is one of authority and legitimacy, and how it is viewed in film as opposed to text. In addition, once a researcher has decided to use film in their research or thesis, the problem of how to effectively use it is one that is yet to be fully addressed. This paper will look briefly at the background of the film/text debate before moving on to how film can be used as an academic resource, not only in the classroom but also for research. The usage of ethnographic film as a source of theory and quotations, and how film can be greater integrated into academic papers, will be investigated in the hope that through discussion on the topic new guidelines can be established.
A dialogue between anthropologists and documentary filmmakers in India
This paper will explore the similitude existing between the anthropological approach to representation and documentary film practices in India. I shall argue that both practices share common features and call for further collaboration in both the academic and practice-based fields.
This paper will explore the similitude existing between the anthropological approach to representation and documentary film practices in India. I argue that both practices share common features and call for further collaboration in the academic and practice-based fields. In line with Fred Myers (1991), I suggest that anthropologists are not alone in their interpretative activity. Documentary filmmakers (as well as other practitioners dealing with representation) are, in fact, involved in a similar act of 'intellectual catharsis' (Sontag 1986) to the extent that, as Robert Edmond (1974) analyses, the significance of any documentary film can be interpreted through an anthropological lens. The Indian subcontinent provides a valid example of this similitude and provokes anthropologists to start thinking beyond anthropology. A combination of documentary film practices (from art, ethnography, activism, performance to non-linear images and video-installations) making use of different technologies (from celluloid and video to HD devices and digital platforms) is proliferating in the subcontinent. These practices of 'image-making' (see Favero 2009, Basu 2008, Ramey 2011) are in line with the field of anthropology, dealing with media and visual images. For decades, this area of anthropology has worked towards the integration of technology and images in the process of knowing ethnographically, and today is increasingly emphasising this feature calling for further theorisation (see Banks and Ruby 2011) but also for regional specifications. The Indian example that I will bring to this panel will help us thinking in an interdisciplinary way but also through possibilities existing between the academic-practitioner relationships.
Translation as transformation: journey of ideas from one domain to another
Documenting the tribal communities is risk molding job as well as pleasure to know the tradition and culture is knowledge gaining. My research work brings
into light various movements of Banjara Tribe of Andhra Pradesh in India
Translating critical and cultural texts from one form to another is an exercise in language and meaning; however, one relies on his/her experiences in transmitting the content of a verbal text into a visual mode with sound, music and video taking precedence over the written word in unraveling the nuances of the image. My long association with production of educational films has been particularly rewarding because it gave me the opportunity to work in surprisingly interesting ways especially after having made a documentary based on a text in Hindi. I embarked on a project of translating the source-text which is Hindi into my mother tongue Tamil thus making the content accessible to readers of a different language-domain. The translated text "Banjara Lok Sahitya" rendered by Dr. Pradeep Kumar Emeritus Prof. captures the life and essence of the Banjaras, an exuberant tribal community and thoroughly focuses on their rich folk literature. With the author's constant presence it was convenient to shoot the documentary, thus understanding the nuances while at the same time examining the differences between theory and practice.The paper attempts to deal with this tryst, the subsequent variation, the loss and gain, and the final output of a painstaking, yet thrilling venture of a processed experience, thus exploring the brighter and greater avenues of translation as they exist, develop and are distributed in mainstream discourse.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.