5:02 pm - Sat, Jun 29, 2013
Q: Hi, thanks for the advice. I've recently got some good (or bad) news. I did pass my exams, but I only got a 2:2. A borderline though, because it is quite near a 2:1. (If you're American, a 2:2 is 50-59% and a 2:1 is 60-69%). And my Masters offer requires a 2:1. The university is having a viva though for borderline students, so they will interrogate us for 30 minutes on our entire syllabus and if we do well we get promoted to a higher degree (2:1 for me). Hoping for the best.
thebriarfieldchronicles

That’s pretty good news! Do tell me if it works out. My brother gets the same grades, so I’m glad there might be some hope for him too.

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8:01 pm - Mon, Jun 17, 2013
10 notes

Looking for anthropologists/students currently doing fieldwork or have done fieldwork

I am currently looking for students or fully-fledged anthropologists currently doing fieldwork, or who have already finished their fieldwork and would like to talk about their experience with me. 

Mainly I just want to talk, but if some would like to, I might eventually publish some of the conversations we have on this blog. It’s not an interview, just friendly conversation. I only have one requirement: I need people who work with living people! I love dead people as much as the next girl, but it’s the living who seem to cause the most problems, and which I’d love to talk about.

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10:49 pm - Fri, May 31, 2013
14 notes

Edinburgh, you lucky bastards.

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6:15 pm - Wed, May 1, 2013
4 notes
While this was published as a feature film, Into Great Silence has all the makings of a great ethnographic film; whether intentionally or by accident it is difficult to say. In 1984, Philip Groning, the director contacted the Carthusian monks in the French Alps asking for permission to film them for a documentary. They said they needed some time to think. Sixteen years later, Groning got his chance yet only if he met the monks’ following conditions: there was to be no artificial light, no interviews, no commentaries and no accompanying crew. The result eventually produced all the common features of an ethnographic film, namely:
-minimal crew; the more minimal the crew, the easier it is to film your subject, the easier it is to be ignored, artificiality is avoided as much as possible
-lack of artificial light; again to render the images more natural and therefore closer to how they are seen by the anthropologist
Interviews and commentaries depend entirely on the nature of the ethnographic film, some prefer to be more worded, others let their subjects be. In this case, I felt the lack of commentaries and interviews was particularly effective; the initial silence enrages or annoys if you’re not prepared for it. Yet ultimately it silences all the loud and fast thoughts cluttering your mental space. You’re left intimately connected to the screen with little to no intermediary in between. 
It is precisely for these reasons that Into Great Silence is a great ethnographic film. The mental state it produces attempts to reproduce that of its subjects; it pulverises your  everyday understanding of the world into submission; a submission that means a spiritual transcendence. So much more than information is conveyed in good ethnography: ideally it should give a direct feeling of a life lived and more importantly, it should perceptibly alter the windowpanes of your view of reality.
I left these three hours of almost absolute silence filled with an appreciation for the simple and a jealousy of their untouchable peace.
Ethnographic rating: 5 stars
Watchability: 2 stars (though with patience this film yields fountains of gold)

While this was published as a feature film, Into Great Silence has all the makings of a great ethnographic film; whether intentionally or by accident it is difficult to say. In 1984, Philip Groning, the director contacted the Carthusian monks in the French Alps asking for permission to film them for a documentary. They said they needed some time to think. Sixteen years later, Groning got his chance yet only if he met the monks’ following conditions: there was to be no artificial light, no interviews, no commentaries and no accompanying crew. The result eventually produced all the common features of an ethnographic film, namely:

-minimal crew; the more minimal the crew, the easier it is to film your subject, the easier it is to be ignored, artificiality is avoided as much as possible

-lack of artificial light; again to render the images more natural and therefore closer to how they are seen by the anthropologist

Interviews and commentaries depend entirely on the nature of the ethnographic film, some prefer to be more worded, others let their subjects be. In this case, I felt the lack of commentaries and interviews was particularly effective; the initial silence enrages or annoys if you’re not prepared for it. Yet ultimately it silences all the loud and fast thoughts cluttering your mental space. You’re left intimately connected to the screen with little to no intermediary in between. 

It is precisely for these reasons that Into Great Silence is a great ethnographic film. The mental state it produces attempts to reproduce that of its subjects; it pulverises your  everyday understanding of the world into submission; a submission that means a spiritual transcendence. So much more than information is conveyed in good ethnography: ideally it should give a direct feeling of a life lived and more importantly, it should perceptibly alter the windowpanes of your view of reality.

I left these three hours of almost absolute silence filled with an appreciation for the simple and a jealousy of their untouchable peace.

Ethnographic rating: 5 stars

Watchability: 2 stars (though with patience this film yields fountains of gold)

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6:39 pm - Thu, Apr 25, 2013
3 notes

Documentary film by Manchester Visual Anthro students being funded by Kickstarter

Sent to me by email:

an exciting new film project being carried out by staff and recent alumni of the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology, Manchester.

The documentary film being made by Manchester-based film production company All Rites Reversed, who are using an innovative approach to fund a new documentary project about one man's quest to build a boat and sail it home from Manchester to Windsor. 'One Long Journey' has been launched on the crowd-funding web site 'Kickstarter' and, through online presence and word-of-mouth alone, the funding target is already half way to being achieved.

The documentary follows Vik Pengilly-Johnson, a 70-year-old former army radio operator, safari park warden, river cruise skipper and all-round character on his adventure to build a boat from scrap in Manchester and sail it down the canals and waterways of England, under Tower Bridge, and up the Thames to his home in Windsor. The filmmakers want to evoke classic journey movies like Dennis Hopper's ‘Easyrider’ and David Lynch’s ‘Straight Story’, whilst adopting the sensitivities and attentiveness of ethnographic cinema.

The film, being shot throughout the spring and summer, will include a strong online component, with donors on Kickstarter being invited to come and join Vik and the film crew on parts of their journey and regular updates on Facebook and Twitter.

The filmmakers met whilst Ben, Tom and Kieran were studying at the University of Manchester and Andy was their teacher. They also know a thing or two about canal life. Andy said: “Ben and I have lived on boats for the past four years and in this project we want to show you some of the beauty, the freedom and perhaps some of the horror that comes with this way of living.”

Please take a look at the links below to get involved and please

KICKSTARTER PAGE: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1912094300/one-long-journey

PRESS RELEASE: http://onelongjourney.businesscatalyst.com/one-long-journey-press-release.html

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12:01 pm - Fri, Apr 19, 2013

Screening of “The Echo of Pain of the Many” (London)

We welcome everyone to the London Premiere of ‘The Echo of Pain of the Many’ (Guatemala/England, 2012, Armadillo Productions) on Wednesday 15 May 2013, 17:30 – 20:00, at the Institute for the Study of the Americas.

The film screening (91 minutes; English and Spanish, with English subtitles) will be followed by a Q&A session with Ana Lucía Cuevas, the film’s director. This event will serve as a preamble to the one-day conference The Right to Truth, Justice and Reparation in Latin America (4 June 2013).

In ‘The Echo of Pain of the Many’ we witness a moving, thought-provoking and rare documentary by a Latin American woman, recording her return from exile and into the still dangerous and volatile political environment of contemporary Guatemala. Filmed over the course of four years, writer-director Ana Lucía Cuevas discovers, through the archived records of the perpetrators of the crimes themselves, the involvement of her own government and foreign Intelligence Services in the abduction, torture and murders of her brother and his young family. At each stop on what becomes an emotional and investigative as well as cinematic journey, from meeting with political analyst Noam Chomsky in the USA, on to travelling across the breadth of Guatemala, visiting police archives, mass ‘clandestine’ graves, indigenous communities who have suffered genocide, and the first trials in over 25 years of those responsible, one piece after another of this puzzle of a personal and national tragedy is brought into focus by the filmmaker. This remarkable debut feature documentary is also, in equal parts, a forensic examination of historical evidence, and a testament to how the endurance of love can overcome fear in one woman’s, and a nation’s search for justice and an end to impunity. ‘The Echo’ is a remarkable story of one family, but provides the starting point and context to understand the tragic events that led, in Guatemala, to their 45,000 ‘disappearances’ amongst civilians and the political opposition to dictatorship.

Ana Lucía Cuevas was born, in 1963, into an era of political dictatorship and repression of any opposition voices in her native Guatemala. As all of her family were engaged as members of the political opposition, from her early school days she had the experience of family friends being assassinated by successive military regimes, and her family becoming the focus of their intimidation and threats. In early 1984, a University education, 12 years as part of a ballet company, and her home and friends were out of necessity left behind as she was forced into political exile. Two months after she left, her brother Carlos was disappeared. In exile Ana Lucía has continued for over a quarter of a century to be engaged in the collective search for justice in Guatemala, campaigning for the rescue of the ‘historical memory.’ After completing her BA in Bulgaria, and a Masters in Digital Media at Goldsmiths (London), she combined campaigning work for justice in Guatemala with becoming a mother, and a career in social documentary filmmaking in Honduras, Britain and Guatemala. The Echo of Pain of the Many (2011-12) is her first feature-length documentary.

Admission to this event is free. For any enquiries, please contact Ainhoa Montoya at ainhoa.montoya@sas.ac.uk

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6:52 pm - Wed, Apr 17, 2013
7 notes

For those who will be in Oslo from now till June.

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9:02 pm - Tue, Apr 16, 2013
12 notes

Ethnographic films for the intrepid explorer

Two years ago I had a short course on Visual Anthropology: we spent 2 months meeting everyday talking about ethnographic film, and I haven’t turned back since.

While feature films still make up the bulk of my movie watching, there’s something especially exciting about ethnographic film. The only thing is that’s it’s horribly, terribly obscure. I mean, it’s even hard if you try. Being from a tiny island, I can barely find anything at all beyond the internet. And even then torrents are virtually impossible to find. Most are limited to specific audio-visual libraries-buying a DVD can sometimes cost you 100 euros a pop.

Not even mubi.com lists all of them. And here I thought the object of cinephilia’s passion was obscure.

I would give you guys a list, but it’s conveniently been done already, so I’ll do something better. I’ll personally review each one I can find (some would be from this list, others not) and even rate its watchability. I don’t know about you, but Jean Rouch’s Jaguar was almost unbearable for me to watch.

If I can find some of these films, I’m sure all you small town and city kids can.

Meanwhile, anyone who hasn’t done an introductory course on Visual Anthropology, I recommend you start off with these:

1. Nanook of the North (Flaherty)
2. Forest of Bliss (Robert Gardner)
3.Lorang’s Way (MacDougall couple) This film is part of the larger Turkana Trilogy
4. Tempus de Barista (MacDougall)
5. The Basque of Santaza from the Disappearing World Series
6. Some Women of Marrakech (Melissa Llwelyn Davies)
7. Darwin’s Nightmare (Hubert Sauper)

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4:12 am - Sun, Apr 14, 2013

Stills from All about Lily Chou-Chou, Sopyonje and Departures.

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4:04 am
75 notes

Non-ethnographic films for the Anthropology student

Some of these are for the absolute beginner, others for those merely interested in films beyond what is shown in Visual Anthropology courses, here’s a list of relatively mainstream films that are excellent for the anthropology student:

  1. Baraka- Because every similar list starts with this one; it is the Citizen Kane of anthropological films and a must see for anyone interested in the human.
  2. Sopjonje- I can’t resist including at least one Korean film and this is the quintessential pop cult film about the revival of Korean culture in South Korea. I also think it wonderfully captures what is inexplicably yet essentially Korean of the tragically themed traditional song. If you want a more subtle landscape of Korean emotion another two Korean well-loved classics are Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring and Poetry. While not strictly ethnographic, I can’t help feeling they say a great deal about Korean culture.
  3. Departures- I’m sure there are many of you out there interested in Japan and there is plenty out there to get you acquainted with Japanese culture; but what’s the most beautiful film you can watch that simultaneously informs you? If you want to know about death rituals, watch Departures. Great cinematography. Excellent content. Classically watchable. 
  4. All about Lily Chou-Chou- Japan gets two entries here but Lily Chou Chou deserves its own entry. Sheer perfection and an enormous insight into the pervasive cyber culture in Japan. You have never seen a coming of age story such as this.
  5. City of God-Yet another classic by any standard. Very little I can say beyond the obvious. Visceral and penetrating look into favelas in Brazil. Extremely discomfiting.
  6. Welcome to the Sticks and Benvenuto al Sud- These two are by no means ‘auteur’ choices but if there’s one thing I love it’s the use of stereotypes as a satirical platform for discussion. And these two films happen to be pretty well written. The original is the French film Welcome to the Sticks but far more interesting to anthropology is its Italian spinoff Benvenuto al Sud. I ended up using this in an essay on bureaucracy and Mediterraneanism.
  7. La Meglio Gioventu- There are two kinds of subjectivities that I feel are sorely lacking in any proper kind of realism in film; the first would be female, the second would be Mediterranean. Perhaps it is because I am both female and Mediterranean, I get a little picky. This film is perhaps where I am deviating from anthropology the most, since it is not a film about the collective. Yet I can’t help feeling there’s something quintessentially Mediterranean about it. Personal stories have been written as ethnography-this has just been done on film.
  8. Persepolis- And speak of the under-represented: the female Muslim anyone? Both the comic and the film are an excellent insight into Iranian culture; the most intimate you can find without going there. An honest depiction not only of personal failings but the failings of an entire nation.
  9. Deepa Mehta trilogy- The essential trilogy for those interested in Indian culture; Water is especially memorable as it deals with controversial topic of widows in India. Definitely the best start off for beginners.
  10. Waltz with Bashir-Like Persepolis, there is always so much that remains on the edge of our consciousness when talking about wars beyond the borders of the West. Without films such as this, sometimes I think they would not penetrate our consciousness at all; they would merely sit there as numbers and half-remembered news stories. A vastly important film, even for its uniqueness alone.

Idiosyncratic, yes, but I hope you enjoy it anyway. It’s certainly a good break from Robert Gardner and Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

Special mentions: Hiver Nomade and Sweet Grass

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