Accepted paper:

Ethnographic Films as Academic Source: Establishing a Usage Guide


Natalie Close (Sophia University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses the use of ethnographic film as a research source, and how this research can be used in an academic setting.

Paper long abstract:

Visual anthropology as a field has been debating the efficacy of ethnographic films as an academic source for many years. On the one hand anthropologists producing ethnographic films wish their efforts to be viewed as having equal worth to ethnographic texts. On the other, some anthropologists claim that film cannot contain the same knowledge or discussion of theory as text. Within the field of anthropology, ethnographic film has largely been ignored in favour of text in regard to the display of knowledge and theory. One of the problems arising in the above debate is one of authority and legitimacy, and how it is viewed in film as opposed to text. In addition, once a researcher has decided to use film in their research or thesis, the problem of how to effectively use it is one that is yet to be fully addressed. This paper will look briefly at the background of the film/text debate before moving on to how film can be used as an academic resource, not only in the classroom but also for research. The usage of ethnographic film as a source of theory and quotations, and how film can be greater integrated into academic papers, will be investigated in the hope that through discussion on the topic new guidelines can be established.

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