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Accepted Paper:

Making a 'good movie': Critical perspectives on the visual 'habitus' in the field  

Author:

Greca N. Meloni (University of Vienna)

Paper short abstract:

Based on the fieldwork experience, the paper seeks to critically reflect on the impact of the contemporary cinematic language on the visual 'habitus' that ethnographers and filmmakers take on in the field.

Paper long abstract:

Starting with the fieldwork experience with a sound-engineering and video maker in Austria, France, and Italy the paper aims to reflect on the different uses of the camera to investigate the practice of beekeeping.

Through the analysis of the footage and related fieldwork's notes, the paper seeks to critically reflect on the impact of the contemporary cinematic language — geared towards a sort of 'festival's visual standard' — on the 'habitus' that ethnographers and filmmakers take on in the fieldwork. Composition, exposure, cinematic style, sound equipment, and type of camera appear often to be arranged to fulfill the viewer's expectations that represent a sort of implicit requirement for producing a 'good movie.' Particularly when the ethnographer works with other expertise connected to film production and TV business, these expectations may produce tensions that could affect the practices of negotiation with the informants. Thus, the paper offers the opportunity to reflect on the challenges for the ethnographer in engaging with the diverse needs and expectations of the actors involved in the film production. The contribution questions the role of film festivals in creating a sort of 'visual standard' that influences the ethnographer-filmmaker in choosing which audio-visual technologies to use and how to introduce them in the field.

Panel P089
Ethnography and new 'habitus' of visual productions