A dialogue between anthropologists and documentary filmmakers in India
(University of Sorbonne Nouvelle)
Paper short abstract:
This paper will explore the similitude existing between the anthropological approach to representation and documentary film practices in India. I shall argue that both practices share common features and call for further collaboration in both the academic and practice-based fields.
Paper long abstract:
This paper will explore the similitude existing between the anthropological approach to representation and documentary film practices in India. I argue that both practices share common features and call for further collaboration in the academic and practice-based fields. In line with Fred Myers (1991), I suggest that anthropologists are not alone in their interpretative activity. Documentary filmmakers (as well as other practitioners dealing with representation) are, in fact, involved in a similar act of 'intellectual catharsis' (Sontag 1986) to the extent that, as Robert Edmond (1974) analyses, the significance of any documentary film can be interpreted through an anthropological lens. The Indian subcontinent provides a valid example of this similitude and provokes anthropologists to start thinking beyond anthropology. A combination of documentary film practices (from art, ethnography, activism, performance to non-linear images and video-installations) making use of different technologies (from celluloid and video to HD devices and digital platforms) is proliferating in the subcontinent. These practices of 'image-making' (see Favero 2009, Basu 2008, Ramey 2011) are in line with the field of anthropology, dealing with media and visual images. For decades, this area of anthropology has worked towards the integration of technology and images in the process of knowing ethnographically, and today is increasingly emphasising this feature calling for further theorisation (see Banks and Ruby 2011) but also for regional specifications. The Indian example that I will bring to this panel will help us thinking in an interdisciplinary way but also through possibilities existing between the academic-practitioner relationships.Download the full paper
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