EASA2016: Anthropological legacies and human futures
A challenge for contemporary anthropology is learning to project itself towards the future. Yet, how can we envision what cannot yet be heard, seen or felt? The EASA2016 audio-visual programme addresses this quest approaching media as a terrain of experimentation with novel ways for exploring the world, welcoming a wide array of presentation formats.
A core challenge for contemporary anthropology is learning to project itself, its past and legacies, towards future scenarios. Yet, how can we envision the future? How can we envision what cannot yet be heard, seen or felt? How do societies and cultures engage with this unpredictable notion?
We believe that audio-visual media play a central role in this quest. Media is a terrain of experimentation with novel ways for exploring the social and material world, for teaching and for communicating our research results with the scientific community and the outer world. Media inscribe the future in our ongoing dialogues between the present and our disciplinary past.
The audio-visual programme of the 14th EASA Biennial Conference will offer a window onto the variety of possibilities for conducting, teaching and communicating anthropological research that characterize contemporary and possible future scenarios. Acknowledging the extent to which anthropological audio-visual practices today are largely entangled with the technologies, practices and modalities of communication that can be found in other fields we have, for the first time in EASA’s history, opened up the program to a broad range of formats, including, besides ethnographic documentary film also ethnographic fiction films and ethnographic short films, installations, photo essays, soundscapes, interactive documentaries, non-linear productions, videogames, drawings, embodied technologies, visual performances, etc.
The program will hence be divided into two strands:
* the “films” will be shown in a devoted auditorium during the whole programme
* the “presentations”, i.e. displays of audio-visual work of non-linear, interactive, multimodal and performative nature.
The programme also curates the incorporation of live ethnographic drawing during the Early Career Scholars’ Forum and hosts a roundtable on curating.
The detailed programme will appear on the site shortly.
If you have an accepted presentation please send your visual materials before the 8th of July 2016 to: Prof. Ivan Bargna, Università di Milano Bicocca, Dipartimento di Scienze Umane per la Formazione, Piazza dell’Ateneo Nuovo 1, 20156 Milano, Italy.
The film programme of the 14th EASA Biennial Conference elaborates upon the dialogue between established and novel ways of making ethnographic films. It will hence host a variety of different formats including feature length films, short films and fiction films each addressing either directly or in a more implicit fashion the key question of the conference, i.e. human futures. A few selected films will also be followed by a Q&A with the author.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
PARADISE IN MY MIND
Predictions of what might happen in the future are strongly linked with the human imagination. Films allow us to give such imagery a visible form. They enable us to re-enact past events, pre-experience the future and make others learn from them. This is also the goal of the film PARADISE IN MY MIND.
PARADISE IN MY MIND is a unique film project by the African community in Switzerland. Inspired by the Nigerian video film industry Nollywood, migrants of various African descent created a 96-minute long film in collaboration with a social anthropologist that reflects the experiences, ideas, dreams and hopes of African (mostly Nigerian) migrants living in Switzerland. While blurring the line between documentary and fiction, as well as between the now and then, the film provides an insights into the everyday struggles of African migrants and their imaginary potency.
The film tells the story of three migrants. Amos has just arrived in Switzerland. He discovers his new home, meets Aisha and falls in love. Everything goes well until his brother goes missing in Spain and his ex-fiancée interferes with his new relationship. The love for her Swiss husband brought Isabella to Switzerland. For several years, she has been working as a shop assistant but now intends to advance her career. However, finding a new job turns out to be much more difficult than she thought. JayJay came to Switzerland to make something of himself. But he soon realises that the system does not allow him to progress the way he envisioned. As there are not many work opportunities for asylum seekers, he starts dealing drugs. However, making money the fast way is not without risks.
Authors/Producers: Emmanuel Mark Bamidele, Sandra Mooser
Year of production: 2012-2015
Languages: English, Nigerian Pidgin English, German, Swiss German, Kiswahili (Englisch subtitles)
Length: 96 minutes
Nightfall on Gaia
Nightfall on Gaia is a speculative ethnographic film that depicts the lives and visions of human communities living in the Antarctic Peninsula.
In April 2043, Dr. Xue Noon finds herself stranded in the GAiA International Antarctic Station. As the polar night closes in she connects herself to the Ai-system to scavenge digital memories and archives. Nightfall on Gaia is a speculative ethnographic film that depicts the lives and visions of human communities living in the Antarctic Peninsula. Grounded in ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Antarctica, the film is an experimental meditation on the future of the Antarctic as a new extreme frontier for human inhabitation, the complexities of a fragile planet at the verge of ecological collapse, and the vicissitudes of an uncertain geopolitical future for the region
Kalanda - The Knowledge of the Bush
A documentary film about donsoya, the knowledge of initiated hunters in Burkina Faso.
In some parts of West Africa, hunting is much more than killing animals. A donso is no common hunter, but a healer, a diviner, a ritual specialist and amulet maker. Kalanda is a unique initiatory journey into their knowledge from the perspective of the filmmaker. It was filmed during a year of research in Burkina Faso, thanks to the filmmaker's initiation to donsoya. His teacher becomes a narrator who carries him and the viewer through a variety of experiences that show the richness of donsoya.
Director: Lorenzo Ferrarini
Jula with English subtitles
Bread of Life: The Word / The Silence
Bread of Life series consists of two short documentaries about modes of Christian devotion and spiritual pursuit in South India today. The films explore Orthodox Sunday schools and Christian ashrams, taking a different cinematic approach in each case to grasp their distinct rhythms of prayer.
'The Word'follows thirteen-year-old Aleesha, an ambitious pupil of a Jacobite Orthodox Sunday School in Ernakulam (Kochi) who takes part in an elocution contest with a speech about Jesus as the Bread of Life. Sincere speech has often been seen as a marker of genuine belief in Christianity and its persuasive power resonates well with Keralite oratory. High expectations and huge emotional pressure surround Aleesha - but what will happen on the day of the Big Contest?
'The Silence' guides us through the everyday life of a contemplative Syro-Malankara ashram- one of the few islands of silence in an extremely vocal society. Monks try to dwell in this stillness while pursuing their daily chores and welcoming visitors. The film camera breaks the silence for a moment as the monks decide to send a video letter to the family of the founder, Francis Mahieu (Acharya) on the occasion of a family reunion in Belgium. This ffers them the opportunity to reflect on their lives, his heritage and the challenge of finding someone to follow in his steps.
An documentary in the form of a twenty-first century Arctic road-movie. Viewed through the camera lens of a philosopher, it is inspired by a line from the poem Dreamland. A journey through people-places in Arctic landscapes give viewers glimpse moments of a sublime, the subject of Poe’s poem.
'Dreamland' is documentary film that moves to the rhythm of a poem, Dream-Land, by American romantic poet Edgar Allan Poe, published in 1844. An essay in sound and image, in 'Dreamland' we follow the figure of a native anthropologist as she re-visits a series of Arctic people-places. Alongside this human figure, the non-human figures of the landscape, the people-places of the Arctic, are equally foreground. The being of the Arctic is revealed as flows, as events of passage.
Seen and narrated through a philosophical lens, the journey could be called an Arctic road-movie. A proposition lies at the core of the movie: that moments of a banal sublime can be glimpsed if one perseveres in engaging with some intensity, in the endless ephemeral disorder of the present, of the here-and now. The movie performs this proposition rather than arguing it. Analytically it enacts a flat ontology. The intention is philosophically serious, but the philosophy threads lightly through the text; a golden thread glinting here and there in the sombre Arctic landscape.
Snail Eating Theatre
The Snail Eating Theatre is what the architect, a Fitzcarraldo of sorts, calls his building - Theatre Royal Marrakech - which is the subject of this experimental and poetic visual ethnography. It is a portrait of a colonial opera entrapped in ruins.
Charles Boccara is like the title character in Werner Herzog’s film Fitzcarraldo, the architect of a mad plan of bringing opera to the colony. In an attempt to undercut Fitzcarraldo’s colonial romanticism, Snail Eating Theatre confronts the colonial phantasy that drives many opera buildings.
At the Marrakech Biennale a 3-month performance was presented by Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll to a local audience in the ruined opera. The libretto played during that participatory performance was recorded during a collaboration with Moroccan al halqa performers in Djemma el Fna. The anti-opera was filmed to be presented later as part of a single channel film about the making of the colonial opera.
30 years ago, the Moroccan King and Mayor of Marrakech commissioned Theatre Royal Marrakech. It is still being built by the French Tunisian architect Charles Boccara, who says it is made for ‘the snail eaters’. Whether these are the French or the Moroccan local audience is ambiguous and it refers as much to the failure to find a local audience for the opera in Africa. As the camera roams the now ruined and haunted Theatre Royal Marrakech, the architect’s copy changes the European originals. The film uses the opera buildings as protagonists in the delirium that beset its commissioners.
While the colonial copy is born from a fear that there is no local equivalent to that European form, it disturbs the authority of the original. This film looks at the infectiousness of European high culture that continues to produce mutant replicas of itself in the colonies.
Laundry Lives: Everyday Life and Environmental Sustainability in Indonesia
Laundry Lives focuses on the changing domestic lives of the country’s rapidly expanding professional middle classes. It examines the implications of the shifting gender relations, new technologies and environmental concerns for in the design of sustainable futures.
Laundry Lives takes us into the usually invisible everyday worlds of five middle class Indonesians - Lia, Dyna, Ning, Adi and Nur. As Indonesia's economy and market grows there are hidden implications for the domestic lives of the country's rapidly expanding professional middle classes, and for environmental sustainability. Laundry Lives captures this moment of change, showing the shifting gender relations, new technologies and environmental concerns that need to be accounted for in the design of sustainable futures.
Megabit: Waiting for a rain
This film focuses on Ethiopian women who try to work as domestic labours in the Middle East with depicting the village life at the end of dry season. It shows the waved feelings of the people who wait for good news and a better future.
The "Megabit" month by the Ethiopian calendar, approximately around March, is at the end of the long dry season. The villagers wait for the start of rainy season. The men do a ritual for rain to till their land. In March 2008 when this film was taken for two weeks, many young women tried to go to the Middle East for making money. What do they go abroad for? What are they really waiting for? This film depicts the waved feelings among the villagers who wait for good news and something a bit better than now. I have conducted my anthropological fieldwork at this coffee-growing village in the South-western Ethiopia since 1998. In early 2008, the women's migration to the Middle East suddenly began and became a boom. The migrant of women from the village have changed their village life and family relationships. I would like to discuss about the migration movement to the developed countries from the point of view of a rural African village.
The name of director: Keiichiro Matsumura
Year of production: 2015
Language: English subtitle
Length: 30 minutes.
Crossing a River, Losing a Self : Retelling an ancient Indian folk tale
The film retells an old Indian folk tale about a guru and his 8 disciples are making a pilgrimage to Kashi (India's holiest city). In order to reach the sacred city, they must cross a treacherous river.
The famous folk tale explores the broader philosophical framework under which the Indian philosophy operates. In order to reach the sacred city of Kashi, one must renounce and surrender him self. Death in Kashi means Moksha (permanent liberation from the cycle of birth and death and union with the Brahman).
The film follows a guru and his 8 disciples who are trying to reach the sacred city. In a subtle tone of humour, the film also highlights the role of gurus and thugs in present days society. Since the film follows an ancient folk tale, but has been made in today's Kashi, the local people are seen carrying on their daily tasks, whilst the actors perform the folk tale. It became a sort of live theatre which was filmed.
The soundscape in the film clearly makes one feel like he in walking around in the city of Varanasi. The dialogues have been recorded keeping in mind the need for surround sound. The film is the first experiment done in order to safeguard such folk tales that are fading away. We have collected many such tales during our field visits in the rural North India. Our young NGO, has been working on safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage of India through the medium of ethnographic films.
These Objects, Those Memories
"These Objects, Those Memories" is a split-screen film on long-term Zimbabwean female migrants, their objects and associated memories in Cape Town, South Africa.
"These Objects, Those Memories" is a split-screen film focused on material culture, specifically, that of three long-term Zimbabwean female migrants currently residing in Cape Town, South Africa. Through an exploration of the objects brought with them, objects sent back to their homeland, objects left behind and their associated memories; stories of joy, loss, and hopes for a return to Zimbabwe are examined.
Women in Sink (Documentary Film)
In a Christian Arab hair-salon in Israel, the director installs a camera over the washing-basin, where she converses with the clients she is shampooing – Arab and Jewish women - on politics, life and love.
Director: Iris Zaki, 2015, UK, Hebrew with English subtitles, 36 minutes.
The northern Israeli city of Haifa is home to Fifi's, a popular hair salon. Like many of her clients, Fifi, the owner, is an Arab Christian, but her loyal clientele also includes many Jewish women. Although they may live separately elsewhere in the country, Jews, Muslims and Christians all come together in the warm and welcoming atmosphere of this local melting pot. The Israeli filmmaker Iris Zaki placed her camera above the basin where the clients enjoy a head massage, and then asked them questions about their lives and the current political situation. They come from different generations and backgrounds, and their opinions about life in Haifa and Israel vary widely, but what they have in common is their genuineness, candor, humanity and gender. The static, minimal close-ups keep the focus on the subject - on the tough, wise and often hope-filled stories. In between the conversations, the sequences showing the salon's goings-on offer a lighter note. In the end, even Zaki lays her own head in the basin, confiding that directing the film made her feel hopeful as well. The further we're removed from politics, the easier it gets to live together.
The Sacred in the Secular
Toomas is an Estonian Orthodox clergyman who is deeply committed to music. He is a deacon at church and a DJ in clubs and radio. It is a controversial combination even in a largely secular country like Estonia. But is the gap between religious and secular life as wide as it is typically assumed?
TAGLINE: The Absolute is not only at church, the Absolute is everywhere.
My film explores the relationship between secular and religious life. The main protagonist, Toomas "Don" Erikson, is an Estonian Orthodox clergyman who as well is deeply committed to music. He expresses that commitment through being an Ethno and Reggae music DJ and working as a presenter at radio. It is a combination that comes across as surprising and raises questions even in a largely secular country like Estonia.
The secular world tends to look at Christianity through a prism of stereotypes. Due to the conservative history of the church it is often believed that there is no place for liberal expression in religious life. During my research I set out to explore whether the gap between religious and secular life is as wide as it is typically assumed.
"Ethno and Reggae music generally invites people to give meaning to the world in a very amicable way. I could say that it is the same thing that I do at church. Just through different symbols. Because the Absolute is not only at church, the Absolute is everywhere." - Toomas Erikson
Verolengo Good Friday Procession - La processione del Venerdì Santo a Verolengo
The Good Friday parade in Verolengo, a town near Turin, is a particularly striking example of Italian folk religious practice. The video presents the feast and describes the rites, their meanings and its tradition by documenting the feast and collecting the experiences of the protagonists of the ritual.
The Good Friday procession in Verolengo, a town in the metropolitan area of Turin, is an event of great emotional intensity and an important example of Italian folk religious public practices.
The documentary was shot in 2014. It describes the feast, its preparation, rituals and the different characters that parade during the night.
The voices and the experiences of the villagers, in particular Maria's, one of the elders of the community, explain the social meaning of the parade, and the motivation that spurs the community on continuing the ritual every year. In fact, what it may appear just an echo from the past is an intimate and lively practice of faith for the people of Verolengo.
The documentary, thus, offers a contribution to the ethnography of Italian communities by shedding light on the link between religion and local identity through the narration of the rite.
Il faut donner à manger aux gens. Cultural Food Practices in Cameroon
The video produced by Lab Expo and The Giangiacomo Feltrinelli foundation, studies the social and cultural importance of food customs both in the rural and urban tradition, from the city of Douala to the Grassfields.
The video produced by Lab Expo and The Giangiacomo Feltrinelli foundation, studies the social and cultural importance of food customs both in the rural and urban tradition, from the city of Douala to the Grassfields. It is the result of research carried out by the anthropologist Ivan Bargna and the artist, Paola Anziché, carried out in Cameroon, between May and June, 2014, in the places in which Ivan Bargna has been working for more than a decade. It is a research project which borders on anthropological documentary and art video.
Riding My Tiger - Trilogi Jawa III (Video, 2014)
The filmmaker searches for the spirit of a tiger said to have haunted the house of his ancestors on Java.
"The story of Ascan Breuer's physical/psychic journey to track down the origins of his family. He is exploring the island of Java along with its culture, traditions and ghosts. The beginning of the film, reminiscent of an intimate diary, soon gives way to a competely different mood. The journey becomes research. The research turns into investigation. Tracks become clues to be deciphered. First-hand accounts are testemonies to be pieced together, like scattered fragments of an uncertain story that is full of gaps. This documentary offers two elements that are usually alien to the genre: suspense and preternatural. Therefore, the viewers are plunged in a film that is also an actual paranormal thriller. Psychological and ethno-anthropological materials are rewritten according to the forms of cinematic narration of mise-en-scéne. Therefore, emotion (pathos) becomes style and culture becomes a (ghostly) character." (55 Festival dei Popoli, Int. Doc. Film Festival Florence, 28.11.-5.12.2014)
Ghora. Waiting for the Goddess.
Authors: Alessandro Cartosio and Irene Majo Garigliano.
India Ι 2014 Ι 38 minutes
VO (Assamese), subtitles English.
Temple of the Goddess Kamakhya. India. August 2013. Within few days Ghoras will dance. What do Shiva Nath Das and Deviram Das feel about the possession they undergo?
Every year in August twenty-one men (the Ghoras) become possessed by deities and dance to the sound of drums for three days. A deity chooses a man as his vehicle; whatever his age he will be possessed every year for the rest of his life. During the three days of the Dance, devotees worship the Ghoras and beg for their blessing. When the Dance is over, the Ghoras, abandoned by the deities, go back to their everyday life: work, family and house-caring.
This ethnographic documentary film follows Shiva Nath Das and Deviram Das in the delicate phase preceding the Dance and explores the way they gradually part from their families and their day-to-day life.
The film can be conveniently projected on a single screen.
A song for Mursal
Elise and Mursal (9) are best friends. While Elise has lived her entire life in Alta, northern Norway, Mursal is a refugee from Afghanistan, seeking asylum in Norway. Now the girls' friendship is threatened by the fact that Mursal might any day be transported out of Norway.
The film is recorded in Alta, northern Norway from 2011 - 2015. The director follows the to young girls Elise and Mursal as they are eager to fight for children's right to express themselves about the right to stay in a country where you as child feel you belong. The parents of Mursal come from Afghanistan, a country Mursal hardly knows as she is born in Iran. At the age of six Mursal and her family arrives in Norway, where they apply for asylum. The juridical procedure takes years of waiting and longing for and answer. The parents are frightened, but try their best to normalize the situation in front of the children. After six years they finally have the final answer. The film is seen mainly through the eyes of the young girls, Mursal and Elise, and how they experience the situation. The film is dealing with the questions of: Escape, war, friendship, hope, fear and uncertainty. The film is a documentary, with elements of fiction. 29 min.
Other Europe (Altra Europa) and Landing (Approdi)
A long documentary and a short experimental webdoc about about the living condition of some Somali and Sudanese refugees in Italy produced by Azul (www.azulfilm.com).
LANDING (Approdi) 6' min, 2009, English subs
photos CHIARA CEOLIN, interviews ROSSELLA SCHILLACI, editing & vfx FULVIO MONTANO
Short documentary made using interviews took during the research period, pictures by a photojournalist, edited by an editor with sound and video effect
OTHER EUROPE (Altra Europa) 75', 2011, English subs
Observational film by Rossella Schillaci.
What happens to African migrants once granted political refugee status? Which challenges they will need to face and what are their prospects for a decent livelihood in Italy?
In Turin, a northern Italian industrial city, an abandoned clinic has been squatted by more than 200 refugees since December 2008. All of whom are legal. Three emblematic characters guide us in a story that reveals, with intimate look, a collective history, an emblematic tale of all European countries today and about their immigration policies and the changes the social fabric of European cities is undergoing.
REZEKI: Gold and stone mining in Aceh
The film is about seeking fortune and fast money in post-tsunami, post-conflict and resource-rich West Aceh (Indonesia). It is a choral description of the relationship between a female-centred agricultural work and the male risky work of gold miners.
Title: REZEKI Gold and stone mining in Aceh
Concept: Silvia Vignato
Authors: Silvia Vignato and Giacomo Tabacco
Directors: Silvia Vignato and Parsifal Reparato
Year of production: 2015
Language: Indonesian and Acehnese with English subtitles
Length: 52 minutes
The film is based on Giacomo Tabacco's and Silvia Vignato's research, respectively, on gold and stone mining and on marriage and labour in West Aceh (Indonesia). It is about seeking fortune and fast money in post-tsunami, post-conflict and resource-rich Aceh. It is a choral description of the relationship between a female-centred, matrifocal agricultural work and landscape (which includes men's work too) and the obstentatiously male risky work of gold miners, up in the mountains, in the pits compounds where women are banned. It is, therefore, a film about young men desiring success and girls, and young women laughing about them. It is also a vision of landscapes of different resources. The film does not privilege one character but is rythmated by a woman's narration. She is a war survivor, a farmer and the mother of two miners. The images of miners descending down the mineshafts are then constantly reinserted in the village everyday life and words. The film is the result of a collaboration with film maker Parsifal Reparato and was shot in February 2015.
Fighting for Nothing to Happen (Nora Wildenauer, 2015, 48 min.)
"Fighting for Nothing to Happen" (dir. Nora Wildenauer, 2015, 48 min. subt: engl) accompanies a relocation project in eastern Indonesia. The film provides insights in the topics of development and religion, brokerage, political structures in decentralized Indonesia and the local culture of Flores.
After the volcanic eruption of Mount Rokatenda, the people of the island Pulau Palue in east Indonesia shall be relocated. But are the planned relocation and the 'new' life at Pulau Besar really promising? The ethnographic documentary "Fighting for Nothing to Happen", main part of Wildenauer's multi-media thesis in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology at Leiden University, investigates how development brokers of a Christian NGO translate interests between different actors, entities and scales, and how these translations influence the brokers' positioning towards the government. Since development brokers are operating on the boundary between the grand discourses of governments or international agencies and the realities of life on the ground, focusing on their central role can provide some major insights into development. By following the main character of the film, a Catholic priest and employee of a Christian NGO, the ethnographic documentary shows that ambivalence between the discourse of good governance and social 'reality' produces political actors who cannot claim fixed positions but constantly negotiate the politics of development by creating networks out of heterogeneous actors. Through this actor-centered and non-normative approach that uses audio-visual methods to focus on relocation practices and performative acts of translation, the film enables the viewer to connect with and understand the agendas of various important actors within the discursive arena of 'relokasi' without constructing and reinforcing homogeneous discursive categories. After the screening, questions regarding methodology, positionality, content and representation of research findings will be answered in a discussion with the director.
Maputo:Ethnography of a Divided City
This film seeks to visualise Maputo in Mozambique as one of Africa's divided cities. It provides a privileged view of the way in which symbolic and material boundaries of various urban spaces are contested, negotiated and, ultimately, inscribed onto mental maps of the city with.
Rapid urbanisation is one of the most dramatic developments on the African continent, often yielding contrasting and shocking images of affluent businesses and residential districts alongside sprawling shantytowns or slums. While urban areas account for an increasing part of the continent's positive macro-economic development and represent opportunities for employment, education, health, leisure and well-being, urban growth is also manifested in emerging conditions of inequality and poverty, rising environmental problems, situations of political instability and riots, as well as persistent high levels of urban crime and violence.
This film project seeks to visualise one of Africa's divided cities, and is part of the research project "The Ethnography of a Divided City. Socio-Politics, Poverty and Gender in Maputo, Mozambique" funded by the Norwegian Research Council. While the film relates actively to the research project, it approaches the themes of that project from new and original angles and the Mozambican film company ANIMA has had full artistic freedom in its filmic approach. A focus on the people inhabiting the city's so-called bairros (districts/areas) provide a privileged view of the way in which symbolic and material boundaries of various urban spaces are contested, negotiated and, ultimately, inscribed onto mental maps of the city.
Year of production: 2015
Length: 73 minutes
Language: Portuguese with English subtitles
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.