Accepted paper:

Issues in filming in the first person among the donsow of Burkina Faso


Lorenzo Ferrarini (University of Manchester)

Paper short abstract:

I reflect on the methodological and representational issues I had to deal with filming my own apprenticeship of donsoya, the initiatory knowledge on hunting. Themes touched include the representation of bodily experience, the role of reconstruction and authenticity, collaborative filming.

Paper long abstract:

Introducing his film Tourou et Bitti, Jean Rouch described it as an experiment in filming in the first person. Forty years later I found myself reinterpreting the same idea, during my research on the donsow of Western Burkina Faso, an initiatory hunting society. Studying donsow meant becoming part of the society, sharing practical activities, experiencing apprenticeship, learning hunting and magic. This reflected in a film project which aimed at representing an apprenticeship of donsoya from my own point of view, which brought to the surface a number of problems which are the subject of this paper. In the first place, how to represent experience, in its sensory and bodily aspects, and how to give the sense of a subjective point of view. I plan to address the technical and poetic solutions I recurred to, drawing from the work of Jean Rouch and Steven Feld. I also had to deal with the long-dating schizophrenia between the role of observer and participant, which very practically translated into the impossibility of filming certain situations in which I was too deeply involved. This brings me to reflect on the role of reconstruction in the film and to problematise experience and its supposed authenticity and immediateness. Finally, I will describe how I tried to compensate the subjectivity of my point of view through a methodology based on collaboration in the conception of the film, screening and editing of the footage in the field and the subjects performing for the camera.

panel V01
Visual encounters: audiovisual approaches to anthropological knowledge