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Accepted Paper:

Accessing experience through images of people's bodies: an encounter between ethnography and film  
Filomena Silvano (CRIA-NOVA FCSH and URMIS Université de Paris) Philip Cabau Esteves (Instituto Politécnico de Leiria, ESAD.CR)

Paper short abstract:

In 1997 and 1998 I was involved in the making of two films by João Pedro Rodrigues. For him this was an experience in film, but for me it was an ethnographic one. This paper brings about an approach on the way of making an anthropology based on this encounter between ethnography and cinema.

Paper long abstract:

In 1997 and 1998 I was involved in the making of two films by João Pedro Rodrigues ("This is my home" and "A Journey to the Expo"). The subject matter was the filming of the transnational journeys of a Portuguese family living and working in Paris, France. Along the process of filming, both the filmmaker and I were aware that we were doing two different things: the director made films, the anthropologist ethnography. To me the cross between ethnography and cinema happened later, when the writing began.

My observation of this reality included two kinds of records: my interpretations of the "field" and its cinematographic images. The reading of reality on the images gathered by a filmmaker allowed me to access new dimensions of this reality that I had not yet identified. The ethnographic interpretation was therefore subject to a second interpretive fold.

In João Pedro Rodrigues's films people are brought to mind by the unequivocally truthfulness of the images that depict their bodies. This cinematographic existence became to me also an ethnographic occurrence: from there my anthropological writing also relied on the observation of the forms those bodies acquired in the movie. The images of these bodies showed me a new path to the experiences of the people with whom I had worked.

Unravelling reality is not something only social scientists can do. Quite the contrary, those other means of perception can expose things that were inaccessible to us, but which then become part of our own ethnographic "facts".

Panel P076
Hybridity Between the Practice of Art and Ethnography
  Session 1 Sunday 3 June, 2018, -