EASA2016: Anthropological legacies and human futures

Media presentations
Location U7-18
Date and Start Time [TBD] at [TBD]
Sessions 0


  • Paolo S. H. Favero (University of Antwerp) email
  • Ivan Bargna (University of Milan-Bicocca) email

Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

The multiple media strand of the AV programme. Addressing the present and future of ethnographic audio-visual practices each presentation will be hosted by their authors.

Long Abstract

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.

Addressing the present and future of ethnographic audio-visual practices each presentation will be hosted by their authors.

"Relatogramas" (ethnographic drawings) by Carla Boserman (University of Barcelona Design Center)

There will be a live intervention by Carla during the Early Career Scholars Forum (Plenary C). She will make her relatogramas live during the speeches. She will then present them in more depth in Presentation session 8 of this programme.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


A.F. Weiss Bentzon's "Is Launeddas". The "archeology" of an ethnographic film.

Authors: Umberto Cao (University of Milano Bicocca - EHESS Marseille)  email
Dante Olianas (Iscandula)  email

Short Abstract

The contribution is about the making of a "modern" documentary from a rediscovered ethnographic footage. It explores the hermeneutic effort between the original author's views, approaches and purposes and the editors' ones, and between past and present theories, languages and technologies.

Long Abstract

In 1962, Danish anthropologist A.F.W. Bentzon borrowed a spring-wind Agfa Movex camera without any connection to the tape recorder and he went to Sardinia where he shot a series of scenes showing the world of the launeddas players, the religious rites their music accompanied, the socioeconomic situation and the way of life of local people.

The existence of this footage was unknown until 1981 when the ethnomusicologist Dante Olianas visited the Archives in Copenhagen checking through recordings, still photos and diaries left by the Danish anthropologist, prematurely passed away in 1971. Listening to a recording of a woman singing he noticed a camera noise which alerted to the possible existence of film footage. He finally found a tin containing 20 rolls of 16 mm B/W film with a total running time of 50 minutes.

Having recognised places, persons, instruments and tunes played, the problem was to produce, out of this scientific footage, a documentary that could reach a contemporary and wider audience than just the experts. The production of the film -between 1993 and 1998- had to face lots of problems: no correspondence between image and sound, no number on the negatives, varying speed in films and in tapes etc. A truly "archaeological work" had to be performed on the ethnographic films, in a hermeneutic tension between original author's views, approaches and purposes and the editors' ones, and between past and present theories, languages and technologies.

It is a B/W film of 39min length

My Name is Ratu Kidul: an art-anthropology collaboration

Authors: Felicia Hughes-Freeland (SOAS)  email
Seruni Bodjawati (Indonesian Institute of Arts Yogyakarta)  email

Short Abstract

This short film is a poetic evocation of Ratu Kidul (Queen of the South Sea), an important female figure in Javanese myth and political symbolism. As a transcultural art-anthropology collaboration it demonstrates the productive capacity of long friendships formed during anthropological research.

Long Abstract

This short film is a poetic evocation about Ratu Kidul (Queen of the South Sea), a mythological figure in Javanese political symbolism who marries central Javanese rulers, created the famous court Bedhaya dance, and steals young men who enter the sea wearing her special shade of green. It is a transcultural art-anthropology collaboration, inspired by Seruni Bodjawati's film series about art with her mother, the artist Wara Anindyah, motivated by two of their paintings, and animated by anthropological research about Javanese dance. It combines live action, poetry, shadow puppetry, and collage. It appears to be the first collaboration of its kind to have taken place in Indonesia. Wara Anindyah has participated in more than 85 exhibitions in Indonesia and China, and was elected The Most Creative Artist by the Indonesian Press Community in 2000. Her daughter, Seruni Bodjawati is a painter and studying a masters in fine art at the Indonesian Institute of Arts, Yogyakarta. She has held four solo exhibitions, dozens of group exhibitions, and film screenings in Indonesia, Italy, Hong Kong, Slovakia, Liechtenstein, and USA. She was elected The Most Inspiring Woman in Art and Culture by Indonesia's First Lady, Ani Yudhoyono. The anthropologist, Felicia Hughes-Freeland is an independent scholar and filmmaker who has known Wara and her family since 1989; Wara and Seruni both appeared briefly in her film, 'Tayuban' (1996). The new film collaboration stands as an example of the productive capacity of long friendships formed during anthropological research.

Sense Consciousness: Exploring Dyslexic Knowing

Author: Ruth Gibbons (Massey University, New Zealand)  email

Short Abstract

This short film combines work created through collaborative practices exploring and representing experiences of everyday dyslexic experience. Through the sensory explorations of embodied knowing the piece uses animation, sound and photography to communicate the worlding of my collaborators.

Long Abstract

In recent work on exploring knowing by Pink and Rapport, in ways of bringing people near to others ways of knowing, they challenge expansion and crossing boundaries into ideas of futures of research and of exploring worlding. In this piece with my collaborators I explore film as a way to express sensory experience engaging with how 'looking' is not a separate sense but enmeshed across experiences and across the bodies sensorium. I also step outside of this to encourage engagement though the making of gestures, which the viewer is invited to do, as a way to create awareness about the bodies engagement through these everyday movements. The work is based in my research with people with dyslexia where we used a variety of different art forms including digital imagery, animation, film, sound, paint, interactive artwork and sculpture to explore knowing from a dyslexic perspective. This work uses a variety of the pieces as an installation through film crossing between different experiences exploring the sensorium of knowing from a dyslexic perspective. Eagleton (1990) suggested that aesthetics is a 'discourse born of the body' and in this piece I engage with this bodied discourse, from the initial creation of the work through to its current form, as the works combine and inform each other adding a new dimension to them in their sharing of the screen.

Heterotopic sound at work and rest: documenting daily soundscapes of precarious market workers in Moscow

Authors: Anton Nikolotov (Berlin Graduate School of Muslim Cultures and Societies, Humboldt University)  email

Short Abstract

This is a work-in-progress field recording composition made from a collection of sonic diaries, fieldwork aphorisms and interceptions of the security guards’ communications in a para-formal market in Moscow.

Long Abstract

This is a work-in-progress field recording composition made of a collection of sonic diaries, fieldwork aphorisms and interceptions of the security guards' communications that were produced from a prolonged participation in the lives of migrant traders, sellers and beggars of a semi-formal, open-air market in Moscow. The large, shabby market halls and bazaars are the remnants of the dystopian, post-socialist nineties that the official media continues to paint as "dark" places of crime and clandestine homes for illegalized, racialized workers. Even as the bazaars have become the city's "internal borders" and routine targets for raids, they are also Foucauldian heterotopic places combining utopian hopes and dystopian reality, points of departures or return, debt, survival and uplift. The project aims at documenting the soundscapes and sonic atmospheres of this place and the people at work or during recreation there. It also aims at presenting the sonic micro-practices pointing away towards other worlds elsewhere. Sometimes these can involve: the singing of the Bollywood love songs, making fun of the customers or passers by, listenings and falling asleep to the Quranic recitations of the Ya-Sin Surah or smoking hashish. An eight minute sample from the perspective of the ethnographer working and living as a seller is available here:


The embodiment of conflict. The prohibition of Sign Language in Dutch elderly deaf people's younger years.

Author: Anja Hiddinga (Unversity of Amsterdam)  email

Short Abstract

In this ‘film-in-progress’ different images are combined: edited interviews of the two main Dutch protagonists in the controversy over the use of Dutch Sign Language in deaf education, footage showing the embodied communicative practices of elderly deaf people in signing and non-signing hands.

Long Abstract

In most countries in Europe and the US, deaf people were forbidden to use sign language in communication until well into the 20th century. Deaf children grew up having to learn to produce spoken words and 'read lips' in order to acquire spoken language, a strenuous and often futile activity. From the 1960's when linguists showed that sign languages are 'real' languages, the road was paved for another perspective on deaf people: that of a cultural community. In the Netherlands conflicts between sign language protagonists and those adhering to the so called 'oralist approach' dominated deaf education until the 1980s.

Deaf emancipation, the struggle for rights and cultural recognition evolved in tandem, but elderly deaf are caught in between these very different views on deafness. Brought up with the notion that signing was a forbidden and inferior way of expressing oneself, the embodied communicative practices of these elderly bear the traces of this conflicted history.

The two main figures in this debate - one a linguist, the other a teacher - started their careers in a big Catholic institute for the deaf with similar points of view, but became adversaries in the course of years. They were interviewed at the end of their lives, looking back at the conflict. For this ‘film in progress’, the edited interview material is combined with shots of (non-)signing hands of elderly. (length 17 min.)

Futures Past

Author: Grete Dalum-Tilds (University of Northampton)  email

Short Abstract

A time based essay comprising A/V ’evidence’ collected by Stevenage Museum in the form of oral histories, commercial photographs of the Development Corporation and private movie clips comparing the corporate with the community memory of it’s own intentions.

Long Abstract

Preparing content for Talking New Towns(www.talkingnewtowns.org.uk)I have listened, edited and looked though the extensive archives in Stevenage Museum. When the content is presented it is framed and interpreted through words, design and editing. The interviews, photos and plan drawings from the new town are used for schools packs, and in exhibition displays to enhance the experience of the objects.

I have searched for the personal statements of the architects and planners who built Stevenage New Town, I have listened to the builders, moms, the Irish and the Londoners, the housing officer and the teachers who lived the changes in the planned new town.The town was built to take in the London overspill, a housing crisis accumulating in the thirties and vastly accelerated by the bombings during the 2. World war.

The planned new towns reflected the intentions of the privately funded Letchworth Garden City and the scope of the state built Becontree Estate built as a part of Homes Fit for Heroes. In the visual essay the voices of people moving in to the new town will reflect in the intentions of the planners, accompanied by the photos commissioned by the Development Corporation and the private recordings on cine film. Sidelining the visual and the oral memories creating a journey through time unfolding the experience of a futuristic project of mass housing. The final piece will be around 10 - 15 minutes and delivered as a movie to be projected on a screen with reasonable speakers.

Elderscapes. Ageing in Urban South Asia - Introduction to an interactive documentary

Authors: Annika Mayer (Heidelberg University)  email
Roberta Mandoki (Heidelberg University)  email
Jakob Gross  email

Short Abstract

The interactive documentary "Elderscapes. Ageing in Urban South Asia" offers an insight into everyday life of older people from the middle class in urban South Asia. Interweaving multiple media like text, video and sound this project contributes to contemporary visual anthropology.

Long Abstract

The interactive documentary "Elderscapes. Ageing in Urban South Asia" (www.uni-heidelberg.de/elderscapes) offers an insight into contemporary everyday life of older people from the middle class in urban South Asia. South Asia's cities are growing rapidly, and longevity is rising simultaneously leading to urban and social change. In this process, perspectives of older people, but also their needs and potentials have to be considered. The project focuses on the social commitment of older persons, their everyday life and social bonding, on their memories as well as perspectives on what it means to grow old in a city.

Multimedia story telling is a contemporary method in visual anthropology. It is an expedient tool to reveal the diversity of research material as it allows the productive interweaving of multiple media types like video, text, sound and images. Furthermore it enables the user to engage with these diverse materials either by following a protagonist in a non-linear way, by engaging with anthropological topics or by navigating across geographical locations (e.g. google maps). The process of knowledge production (and appropriation) is therefore at least partly regulated and controlled by the recipients themselves.

However, the usage of diverse media does not only serve as ethnographic description. An entanglement of textual and sensory visual media with anthropological findings also creates new connections between ethnography and anthropological theory. Besides describing the ethnographic field, it generates multi-linear, multi-vocal, interactive and reflexive 'texts' which concurrently take up theoretical anthropological discourses.

The role of multisensory, embodied and participatory media in the production and dissemination of ethnographic knowledge

Author: Tom Jackson (University of Leeds)  email

Short Abstract

This presentation will show how an experimental combination of multisensory, embodied and participatory media might create vivid records of the field, facilitate the collaborative creation and analysis of research materials and challenge traditional models of disseminating ethnographic knowledge.

Long Abstract

Through the practices of creating vivid, multisensory and embodied media during research encounters in the field, and the distribution of that media through online collaborative platforms, the traditional paradigms for the production of ethnographic knowledge might be significantly altered. When experiences of the field of study can be accessed, analysed and contributed to from anywhere in the world, the authorial control of the ethnographer is reduced and the collaborative construction, interpretation and contestation of narratives, memories and potential futures must be embraced.

The efficacy of these practices will be illustrated by the demonstration of sensory research materials created during an ongoing study of Temple Works in South Leeds. Initially constructed as a textile mill in 1840 and once featuring the largest single room in the world, the building is now home to a cultural project that supports local artists, makers and performers. A multisensory, spatial and participatory virtual archive of the building is being developed with the intention of exploring the relationships between the vivid sensory experience of the building and the creative and cultural practices that take place within it.

This project could be accommodated on a single screen by a presentation, demonstration and discussion of the work, by allowing attendees to interact with the project directly, or by creating a video demonstration of the key features.

Author: Tom Jackson

Year of Production: 2014 - present day

Language: English

Platform: Interactive web application (or pre-recorded video demonstration, if preferred)

Bréviaire d'un regard - Breviary of a Vision Tome III The Ovahimba Years / Rina Sherman

Author: Rina Sherman (ACA LTFA)  email

Short Abstract

Transmedia présentation "The Ovahimba Years" visual ethnography study in Namiba and Angola; the genesis, seven years of fieldwork, research results and conservation donation of my archive to the French National Library and subsequent multimedia exhibition at the BnF-François in Paris (2015).

Long Abstract

The Ovahimba, a community of cattle farmers, live on both sides of the Kunene River border between Namibia and Angola. For seven years, the ethnographer, filmmaker and photographer Rina Sherman lived with a family during a fieldwork study of the Ovahimba cultural heritage. She documented aspects of their everyday and ritual lives. The archival collection consisting of several hundred hours of video and sound, thousands of photographs, drawings and notes, composes a unique ensemble of this community, both of universal interest and innovative as an ethnography. In 2014, Rina Sherman donated it to the French National Library and in 2015 the BnF hosted a exhibition that provided a multimedia overview of her seven years of work with the Ovahimba and other Otjiherero speaking communities.

This transmedia presentation "The Ovahimba Years / Rina Sherman" visual ethnography study in Namiba and Angola explores in multiple media: Photography, Video, Drawings, Text and Sound, the origins and design and financial development stages of the project, the seven years of fieldwork in Namibia and Angola, the processing of research results that ensued from the fieldwork and the conservation donation of my archival fonds to the French National Library (BnF) in 2014, as well as the subsequent multimedia exhibition hosted by the BnF at the François Mitterrand site in Paris in 2015.


Designing an ethno-graphic platform: An expanded window on fieldwork practice.

Author: Francesco Dragone  email

Short Abstract

Based on the premises of the graphic novel Lissa, this web platform explores the process and significance of translating ethnographic research into a new visual genre. The digital platform aims to outdo the standards of linear reading allowing users to navigate multiple paths of inquiry.

Long Abstract

Comics have a groundbreaking potential for the representation of humanistic, historical, and social perspectives on people's everyday lives Western academia is starting to integrate graphics as a legitimate means to develop and explore social theory. In Unflattening (Harvard University Press, 2015), Sousanis uses comics for a theoretical exploration of the primacy of text over image in contemporary Western academia. Graphic Medicine Manifesto (Pennsylvania State University press, 2015) is another example of how comics can convey patients' perspectives on pain, suffering and chronicity, de-mystify medical processes, and de-center biomedical authority. .

The graphic novel Lissa: Still Time is an innovative project based on the ethnographic work of Sherine Hamdy (Brown University) and Coleman Nye (Simon Fraser University), Lissa is a fictional novel based on the two academics' research on kidney failure in Egypt, and BRCA genetic testing in the US. The authors, graphic artists, and ethnographic filmmakers that are behind this project are additionally working on a digital platform that will serve for the in-depth exploration of the project's behind-the-scenes. The platform will feature born-digital and digitized components that will include archival and pedagogical materials, as well as a short film documenting the crew's ethnographic trip to Egypt.

Our aim is to make this story available to other scholars and artists who wish to embark on similar projects. The website will offer a reflection on new forms of how visual media can be integrated in academic research to expand theoretical boundaries and make academic contents accessible to a broader public.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.