Cinema, mind, world: toward a new methodology in the uses of cinema for anthropology 
Aparna Sharma (University of Glamorgan)
Martha Blassnigg (Plymouth University)
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Michael Punt (Plymouth University)
Wills 3.33
Start time:
20 September, 2006 at 11:30 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

In the light of recent directions in film history and film theory this panel is intended to invite us to rethink the uses of cinema as a research tool in the fields of anthropology.

Long Abstract

This panel invites us to rethink the uses of cinema as a research tool in the fields of anthropology. The dominant use of cinema as primary evidence tends to derive from the orthodoxies of textual analysis of narrative films or the scrutiny of the documentary evidence of ethnographic films. The first methodological problem that this presents is that it conflates two quite distinct uses of film technology: the production of certain kind of images and sounds (film) and the institutions that have been built around their reception (cinema). Secondly we are now beginning to understand that audiences in the late 19th century were quite influential in determining the kinds of images that were presented to them and shaped the contexts in which they were received. We will show how by rethinking film, cinema and its audiences, we can use visual evidence with greater precision in our anthropological research. Punt (film and cinema historian) will discuss the determining impact on film form and cinema institutions exerted by audiences at the very threshold of the cinemas invention between the years of 1894 and 1900 and will show how established worldwide business networks allowed for a complex traffic between the remote audience and the observed that shaped film form. From the perspective of philosophy, visual anthropology and consciousness studies Blassnigg (cultural anthropologist, film theorist) will discuss the complex processes of cinema perception as an active participation that critically engages with the visions of the filmmakers, their apparatus, and their interaction with the filmed subjects. Finally from the vantage of a practising filmmaker Sharma (film maker, cultural theorist) will discuss the fundamental disparity in the relay of perceptions that are embodied in any film experience. She will show how montage editing problematises and reconciles these ruptures and in so doing impacts on our perception of other relationships. The three presentations will outline their respective positions using archive footage.

Accepted papers: