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Authorship, praxis, observation, ethnography
Paul Henley

commonly assigned to it, at least in English-language anthropology, was that of a humble data-gathering instrument that could record the world with an unblemished objectivity and which, as such, could act as a control on the inevitably subjective and faulty observations possible through the naked human eye alone. But as a result of the impact of postmodernism on the social sciences in the 1970s, coinciding with a great leap forward in technology, the door was opened onto a series of much more imaginative ways of using the moving image camera for ethnographic purposes

in Beyond observation
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Sharing anthropology
Paul Henley

Ghana), aged 36. He is using the Bell & Howell Filmo 70 that he bought in the Paris Flea Market in 1946. Most important of all, Rouch established that an ethnographic film-making praxis based on a collaborative relationship between film-maker and subjects could afford a much more profound understanding of the subjects’ world than one posited, in the name of science, on a radical separation between observer and observed. This idea of a ‘shared anthropology’, realised through all

in Beyond observation
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The principles of Observational Cinema
Paul Henley

. Nor, in contrast to the other two Authors, did Young have any formal training in anthropology or indeed any other social science involving the practice of ethnography. Having studied moral philosophy as an undergraduate in his native Scotland, Young moved to California in the early 1950s where, after taking an MA in Theater Arts and spending a relatively brief period working in various practical capacities in the feature film industry, he became a teacher of screen studies at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). By 1965, when he was still only 38, he had

in Beyond observation
Paul Henley

Caught in a Web , a series in three parts, each a single television hour in duration, which compared and contrasted life in a traditional village in rural Dorset (or more strictly speaking a cluster of small hamlets) with life in Villes-sur-Auzon, a village of Haute Provence in France. The director was Toni de Bromhead, a film-maker trained at the NFTS where she had been greatly influenced by Colin Young and his ideas about Observational Cinema. Prior to attending the NFTS, de Bromhead had also studied social anthropology at the London School of

in Beyond observation
Paul Henley

of the ‘chronophotographic rifle’, the cinematographic device used by Regnault and Comte. 3 At the time that he shot these sequences, Regnault was concerned to explore the relationship between bodily movement and racial identity, since the concept of race remained central to the still-dominant evolutionary theoretical paradigm in anthropology. Within a few years, however, in accordance with changes going on more generally in anthropological theory at that time, Regnault had

in Beyond observation
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Films of re-enactment in the post-war period
Paul Henley

of Hudson Bay, even further north than the area where Flaherty made Nanook of the North . Mostly shot over 13 months in 1962–63 and released between 1967 and 1969, these films were commissioned by the Education Development Center (EDC), an organisation based in Cambridge, Massachusetts and associated with Harvard University. This body was funded by the US National Science Foundation and the Ford Foundation and had a brief to develop the teaching curriculum in US high schools. However, the films were actually

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

Bechuanaland. Initially, Laurence Marshall tried to recruit an anthropologist to accompany his family expeditions. But at that time, some fifteen years before the ‘Man the Hunter’ symposium in Chicago and Marshall Sahlins's theory of the Original Affluent Society placed hunting and gathering societies at the centre of anthropological attention, he could not find a single US anthropologist who was prepared to join his family expeditions, not even a graduate student, despite the fact that he offered to pay all their expenses. The few anthropologists who did

in Beyond observation
Films of the Sensory Ethnography Lab
Paul Henley

with the SEL have mostly come from anthropology or social science backgrounds themselves, through the Film Study Center, as well as through the Harvard Film Archive, located in the Carpenter Center, they have been engaged in an active dialogue with film-makers from a range of very different backgrounds. 6 As a result, the SEL film-making praxis has been much influenced by non-fiction film-making approaches lying well outside conventional ethnographic film traditions. Among the film-makers whose work has been

in Beyond observation
Paul Henley

( 1960 ). Rouch himself never formulated a systematic methodology for this genre of film-making, which would eventually come to be known as ‘ethnofiction’ by third parties. (He himself preferred the term ‘science fiction’, a sort of pun based on the fact that in French, the term ‘science’ covers not just the natural sciences but also the social sciences, including ethnography.) For present purposes, one could say that the essential defining features of ‘ethnofiction’ include, first, the anchoring of the film in extended ethnographic field research and second, close

in Beyond observation
Paul Henley

archaeological matters, the films that arose from this collaboration also included a film about contemporary Mongol life and another about ‘Peking’ as Beijing was then known. In a similar manner, in 1928–29, Pathé collaborated with the Department of Anthropology at Harvard to make the Pathé Science series, which consisted of three short films: one about life in Java, another about Bedouin herders in the Arabian desert and the third about Mongol herders in the Gobi desert. 7 While all these

in Beyond observation