This panel invites anthropologists to explore moments of unexpected wonder in ethnographic film. We wish to understand how such moments are related to the specific modes of cultural critique that can be produced in film.
Those moments where a film exceeds its maker's control are among the most powerful ones. They relate to the concept of "grace" as proposed by Jean Rouch when describing the kind of unexpected disturbance or wonder that sometimes occurs while recording and editing a film (Rouch 2003; Henley 2009). Timothy Asch also describes how film may provide us with such unplanned or even unwanted gifts that we have no way of controlling or preparing for, and that often, we only later learn to appreciate. Such moments in films are, as he says: "a bit like a gargoyle at Chartres...one of those strange things that stick out and you say, what's this?" (Asch in Ruby 2000: 129). The specific kinds of cultural critique that we are able to produce with ethnographic films often derive from such unexpected moments, when suddenly we find that the camera shows us something that affects us as a resistance—a form of perceptual disturbance that we cannot quite understand.
This panel is dedicated to the exploration of such moments in film footage. We invite anthropologists who wish to share fragments of their own or other people's film footage. We want to understand what constitutes such rupturing moments? Are there ways to collaboratively provoke or facilitate the emergence of such moments? To whom are such moments perceivable or meaningful? How might we conceptualise creativity, authorship and the agency of humans and their cameras in relation to such moments?