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Open Access (free)
Paul Henley

Throughout most of the twentieth century, ethnographic film-makers, particularly those in the English-speaking world associated with academic institutions, were ill at ease with the idea of authoring their films. From the 1890s, when anthropologists first started to take moving image cameras with them to the field, until as late as the 1970s, cameras were considered primarily to be scientific instruments that in the ideal case would allow researchers to bring back objective visual records of certain aspects of their fieldwork. Any exercise of

in Beyond observation
Open Access (free)
The complexities of collaborative authorship
Paul Henley

David and Judith MacDougall were far from alone in developing reflexive and participatory ‘ways of doing’ ethnographic film-making during the 1970s and 1980s. Many other ethnographic film-makers in the English-speaking world were working in a similar manner during this period, including a number of those who had been active in the 1950s and 1960s, and whose work I describe in Chapters 3 and 4 . Abandoning the aspiration to produce objective film records of the kind envisaged by Margaret Mead, they too developed collaborative authorial

in Beyond observation
Open Access (free)
Films of re-enactment in the post-war period
Paul Henley

In the ethnographic film-making that took place in the twenty years following the Second World War, the documentation paradigm continued to predominate, at least in the English-speaking world. The moving image camera was still primarily thought of, not as a means for making documentary films, but rather as a recording device that should be used to gather visual data in the most objective possible fashion. The interest in salvage ethnography also continued unabated, owing to an intensification of the political and economic processes responsible

in Beyond observation
Paul Henley

. The remaining six films were all about the Maasai of the Loita region in southern Kenya, close to the Tanzanian border, and were directed by Llewelyn-Davies, based on her own field research. Although these films still owed a great deal to the stylistic conventions and technical praxes typical of Disappearing World , they also broke new ground in the authorship of British television ethnographic film and for this reason, I consider them separately in the latter part of this chapter, in a section dedicated exclusively to Llewelyn-Davies's Maasai films

in Beyond observation
Paul Henley

sought to do, these commercial film-makers had no hesitation in authoring their films. Ironically, a number of these commercially produced films have been claimed, retrospectively as it were, as masterworks of early ethnographic cinema and are now much more frequently watched and discussed, even in academic contexts, than the films made over the same period according to the self-denying ordinances of more academic ethnographic film-makers. In this chapter, after a preliminary section discussing the very earliest examples of films concerned with

in Beyond observation
Paul Henley

– among many others – may provide the basis for taking ethnographic film-making into the future. Participatory film-making as political engagement: Tracks Across Sand as ‘a story of our times’ Shot over a twelve-year period between 1996 and 2008, and finally released in 2012, Tracks Across Sand is a series of films produced under the direction of the anthropologist Hugh Brody. It traces the historical background, the complex

in Beyond observation
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The early films of John Marshall and Timothy Asch
Paul Henley

. The Hunters and the Great Kalahari Debate Of all the English-language ethnographic film documentation projects initiated in the period after the Second World War, by far the most prolonged was the one developed by John Marshall, which he began when he was barely 18 years old. Marshall would later become one of the most acclaimed ethnographic film-makers of the latter part of the twentieth century, but at the beginning, he appears to have taken up the moving image camera more on account of the influence of his father

in Beyond observation
Open Access (free)
Indigenous media and the Video nas Aldeias project
Paul Henley

The definition of ‘indigenous media’ If the emergence of portable sychronous sound in the 1960s was fundamental to the emergence of more overtly participatory modes of ethnographic film authorship over the following decade, a further technological development in the 1970s facilitated a film-making praxis in which those who had traditionally been only the subjects of ethnographic films could become the authors of their own films about their lives. This technological development took the form of portable, easy-to-use and

in Beyond observation
Open Access (free)
Sharing anthropology
Paul Henley

The very nature of ethnographic cinema – how it is practised, how it is talked about, where its limits are deemed to lie – has been profoundly shaped by the work of Jean Rouch. Through his personal example, he established the métier of ethnographic film-making as a creative activity of potentially broad horizons whose practitioners could engage in a lively exchange of ideas and methods with film-makers from many other backgrounds and with very different agendas. Moreover, he showed that it was not necessary for anthropologists to rely on

in Beyond observation
Films of the Sensory Ethnography Lab
Paul Henley

Since its establishment in 2006, the Sensory Ethnography Lab at the University of Harvard (henceforth the SEL) has been responsible for an impressive series of innovative and technically accomplished films, a number of which have vaulted the frontiers of academia and been widely distributed through festivals and even general cinema release, mostly to critical acclaim in the mass media. At the same time, these films have contributed to a lively debate within academia about the very nature of ethnographic film-making and, indeed, of ethnography

in Beyond observation