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Readings (due August 30)

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 8 months ago
 

To comment on the following readings, please first indicate your name, e-mail address, and the date of your post. Then, add your comments.

 

Example: [E. Kintz, kintz@geneseo.edu, 8/25]

 

 

Ruby - Preface, Intro, Chapter I

 

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[Rebecca Coons, rsc2@geneseo.edu, 08/31]

Jay Ruby- Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 of Picturing Culture

 

While filmmaking may be the "new ethnography," there are still a lot of problems with using videos to portray an entire culture. First, we must factor in that just about any film (unless you're Peter Jackson) is usually 2 hours or less. The story of any human culture takes years to research and document. A culture cannot be summed up in a 2 hour documentary.

From there we look at the editing of film. Filmmakers almost always edit out any interaction between themselves and the culture they are portraying. Since the goal of ethnographic work is to observe and record, but not change, other cultures, the films show that the crew had no real interactions with the people in the film. By bringing in a film crew and technology that may not have been introduced to a particular culture, the filmmaker runs the risk of leaving a fingerprint on the people. Artistic film aspects including narration, soundtracks, and cutting from scene to scene add to the asthetic value of the film but more often than not, distort the cultural picture even further.

Ethnographic films have great potential in the 21st century, but must be done carefully and for the sole purpose of portraying another human culture. Since the primary goal of filmmaking is usually to produce a film, a good portion of the science of anthropology gets lost somewhere on the cutting room floor.

Excellent job Becca!  Great commentary on the reading.  I like how you draw in correlations with popular media.  ---Tom

 

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[Shamiran Warda, sw11@geneseo.edu]

Jay Ruby- Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 of Picturing Culture

 

Accurately trying to portray a specific culture is indeed hard, even as new technological methods are being developed every year. One can not just go out into a tribe and just start filming away a native people's way of life and at the end of the day claim they saw everything that there was to be seen. I believe we all have a bias built in us, believe it or not. We tend to want to absorb what we want to hear and see, therefore, we can never trust the one who is filming or asking away questions. The only way to get the complete picture is for you and I to go out ourselves and take a look through our own eyes what other cultures are like; to learn first hand. I am not saying films and books out there are bad, a useless thing, but that they might not always paint the full picture. One just has to be more cautious when watching a film or hearing a sound clip, or even reading a book because those who recorded and wrote these things might be recording what the majority of people want to hear and see, to further their careers.

Shamiran, excellent job picking out key points from the reading.  Excellent post.---Tom

 

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[Cameron Mack, cfm6@geneseo.edu 9/2/07]

Jay Ruby- Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 of Picturing Culture

 

In this day and age, I believe that it is essential that trained anthropologists be the individuals assembling ethnographic films. As many people have previously stated, there is an immense amount of detail and skill necessary to create a unique ethnographic film that holds true to the culture and people who are being filmed and analyzed. Bias on the part of the production crew may jeopardize the quality and plausability of the film, making the viewer doubt whether or not what they see is the truth. Other critical areas to consider while filming include cinematography, narrations, editing, interaction with the culture (influence), time span, soundtrack, and emotional attachments. These are just a few of the more vital areas to consider while creating an ethnographic film.

As the author below writes, "an objective view is the key". To properly observe and record a culture unlike your own, one must immerse themselves in their lifestyle and rituals as to correctly and objectively portray them. By doing so, the filmmaker can create an objective piece that all audiences can appreciate for its cultural authenticity. I am not saying that an ethnographic film is impossible to make, however, I do believe that it takes a great deal of time to correctly show the culture under analysis in an objective manner. When these films are made they can become great records of a culture (much like an artifact), which are often priceless. Ruby discussed many other topics within the first pages of his book, which were all engaging and interesting, however, I found this topic the most intriguing.

 Cameron, great job on this post.  The only thing that needs improvement is that you need to include a page number for the quote I have highlighted in yellow.---Tom

 

 

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[A. Saunders, ars11@geneseo.edu, 9/02]

Jay Ruby- Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 of Picturing Culture

 

Film has given the anthropologist a new edge in the study of human culture within the last hundred years since its introduction into the scientific community. The ability to visually portray a culture gives the ethnographer power to show the lives of people as he views them. An objective view is the key.

How something is filmed can have a strong influence on the emotion that comes with it. Camera angles, soundtrack, shading, zooms and cinematic shots, all of these can have a profound effect on the viewer. Though, if done correctly, a film can give us a view of culture that words themselves cannot. Words can describe the body language or art and dance of a people, but to be able to witness these events and study them with motion picture is second to none.

The ethnographer has the responsibility also to not influence the culture in which he is studying with the creation of his film. Interaction is one thing but to influence the peoples for the benefit of the film is unacceptable. Film can give us a record that may in fact outlive many of the disappearing cultures on Earth and a tool that if used in the correct manner can give us a wealth of knowledge that without it, would be lost.

Adam, great job.  I like the emphasis on the benefit film plays in capturing a fuller picture of the ethnographic record.---Tom

 

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[Elen De Oliveira, emd10@geneseo.edu, 8/30]

Jay Ruby- Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 of Picturing Culture

 

Along with the preservation of culture through storytelling, much of culture is preserved through the visual symbols mentioned in Ruby’s preface. Without artifacts such as pyramids, drawings, and sculptures of the past we would know very little. Often it is these visual symbols that provide information about the culture that could not have been found elsewhere.  As technology progresses there is increased opportunity for anthropological knowledge to increase as well, therefore, pictorial media could very well alter the shape of anthropological knowledge. Close examination of a person or people and can give a useful amount of information about human condition. Film would be helpful to an anthropologist conducting research because it allows for close examination as well as the opportunity for repetition.

It is disconcerting to realize, however, that Hollywood misrepresents everyone’s culture because the audience tends to put their faith in whatever the film is telling them to be true. People are attracted to these films in which they hope to learn about the cultures of these “exotic” people and do not even realize that in fact what they are viewing may not be realistic. As a result, we have to wonder if anything we watch is indeed complete truth, even what is taught in class, as Martinez points out.

Excellent post, Elen.  Only thing that needs to be done is to provided a page number for the reference to Martinez that I have highlighted.  The way it is now, we have no idea who Martinez is, and a page number would provide a means to find that out.---Tom

 

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[Isobel Connors, icc2@geneseo.edu, 8/30]

Jay Ruby- Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 of Picturing Culture

 

Visual anthropology preserves a record of culture that cannot be articulated through words. In film, the body represents its own aspect of culture that expresses itself through movement, dress, and interactions among others. Unfortunately, properly preserving a culture in film requires more than just filming the exotic 'other': the filmmaker must understand cultural anthropological techniques of study and be able to articulate such knowledge in their film.

Problems arise when documentary-producers attempt to make films without an anthropological background, and vice versa. Often times, anthropologists in hope of producing a film are taught how to capture an image, but not necessarily to expand upon the image through a scientific eye. As Ruby states, it is not enough to place a camera in front of people and hope to produce an objective view of a culture; one must take into account that the camera will affect the actions of the observed.

END

Excellent job Isobel.  As I have been putting above for other posts, a page number for your reference to Ruby is needed, but the rest of your post is awesome.---Tom

 

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[Stephanie Aquilina sma8@geneseo.edu 8/30]

Jay Ruby- Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 of Picturing Culture

 

Creating ethnographic films has frequently been misguided by non-anthropological intentions (such as for commercial/entertainment use and marketability, and furthering nationalistic pride), which has resulted in a “crisis of representation” that questions the legitimacy of the way in which the cultures are being portrayed.

 

Anthropologists must create an infrastructure to the filmmaking process, determining what impact ethnographic films have upon viewers in order to justify their use in the field. Producing them as scholarly documents that are comparable to written accounts will inspire scientific discussion; purposefully commercial/documentary films that are meant to awe the ignorant tend to be viewed commonly by ethnographers as an avenue of artistic competition and critique.

 

The validity of ethnographic films suffers due to technological obstacles such as the nature of equipment that is necessary and the amount of funds required – these often force anthropologists to distort cultural practices (i.e. requesting that a performance be held outside in the daylight as opposed to indoors at night) and collaborate with professional filmmakers whose visions and objectives vary significantly.

 

Boas understood how the preservation of cultures as dynamic beings is often crucial in recording the genuine nature of their societies. With the aid of motion picture, human behavior that might otherwise be overlooked, such as nonverbal communication, gestures, and body movement and rhythm, could easily be explored and subsequently provide much deeper insight into and more inclusive preservation of a culture – the reluctance to utilize this method is due to the lack of theory behind the importance of these cultural embodiments and a mistrust of the potential for objectivity in the filming process. END

Excellent post Steph.  Great job analyzing the reading and pulling out keypoints.  ---Tom

 

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[Kaitlyn Northrop, krn3@geneseo.edu, 8/30]

Jay Ruby- Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 of Picturing Culture

 

When researching to make a film, hours upon hours of footage is shot, but only a minute portion is used in the finished product. When cutting, editing and deciding what to use, directors must think about what to include in their film. Questions such as profit and expense must enter their mind and this puts a bias on the footage that they include in the finished film. If the directors did not have to depend on making money from their film, the bias may not be quite as large.

In today's society, entertainment value takes a large toll on what goes into making a film, even if what they are showing is not exactly what occurs. Money inhibits the film makers from showing the true stories at times and it would be interesting to see what the films would look like, and how the audience's perspective would change, if the film included everything and not just what attracts people to it. ~END~

Excellent Kaitlyn.  But would people want to watch films that didn't have anything that "attracted them"?---Tom

 

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[Heather Warren, hrw1@geneseo.edu, 8/30]

Jay Ruby- Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 of Picturing Culture

 

Ethnographic film is not just about exotic people doing exotic things. In fact, such a view often hinders the development of ethnographic film. Also, ethnographic film is not necessarily, as is commonly perceived, any documentary film about non-western culture. Filmmaking, due to our capitalist economy, has become an industry solely concerned with profit, so much so that any other use of filmmaking is secondary. This hinders the use of film for education, documentation, and ethnography due to the fact that in order to fund such films the materials have to be presented in a way that sells, whether or not it is portrayed 100% accurately. Finally, the making of documentaries has taken on a role as a stepping-stone for serious filmmakers, labeling anyone who makes only documentaries as not talented enough to make what is considered “real” films, fictitious and for entertainment purposes only. - END -

Gret job Heather! 'Real' Films?  Is that what they call some of the stuff they show us in movies these days?---Tom

 

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[Anne Kim, ak13@geneseo.edu, 8/30]

Jay Ruby- Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 of Picturing Culture

 

Many times an ethnographic film is mistaken for a film of anthropology. This is because an ethnographic film is many cases just films recordings of “exotic people” rather than a precise representation of the anthropological aspect of the culture. Ruby states that although these films have use in teaching, there is no reliable background for it to be a scholarly source.He also clearly stated that there is a clear difference between ethnography and anthropology. Thus, it is important to eliminate ethnographic assumptions and correctly express the research that they gather, as film was intended to do. In addition, the audience should be aware of what is "accurate" and what is not because there may be many bias opinions inserted without the filmmaker's knowledge. By putting an emphasis on the importance of accuracy, it is also preserving the different cultures. END

Great job Anne.  To improve this post, page numbers are needed for the highlighted areas.  Accuracy is important, but wouldn't our definition of accuracy vary from that of the subjects?---Tom

 

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[Jennifer Ritzenthaler, jkr5@geneseo.edu, 8/31]

Jay Ruby- Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 of Picturing Culture

 

To film a good ethnography, one might look at what has succeeded and failed in other ethnographies and documentary films. Ethnographic and documentary film is commonly practiced without paying much attention to ethnography or anthropology. Some anthropologists see film as simply a teaching aid. Still, archives of researchable footage have been made that proved to be valuable to the study of anthropology. Ethnographers have seemed to have a greater need to justify the film to the people they are studying than most documentary filmmakers. This usually benefits both the subject matter and the film by adding a type of accountability and therefore credibility to the piece. Also, the films they are making may only be of interest to those knowledgeable of the subject matter, so it may be difficult to obtain aid and money for making them. Ethnographies can provide empathetic portraits of people that are foreign to the filmmaker and the audience. In this way, they have a multitude of uses. END.

Jen, excellent post.  They may be of interest to individuals knowledgable to the subject area...or to crazy people like us!---Tom

 

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[Brendan Ryan, bmr4@geneseo.edu, 9/1]

Jay Ruby- Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 of Picturing Culture

 

Over the past century film has become one of the more useful mediums for recording and preserving the human past. Still, a guide has not emerged from the anthropological community nor has a precedent been established that details how to turn film into ethnography. If film is ever to be accepted within the scientific community on a level with print based channels (scholarly articles, books) then there needs to be a method for reviewing and critiquing it that as yet does not exist. The lack of an established guide may serve to discourage the anthropologist from pursuing a study presented in the form of a film when it is compounded with other factors like cost and the impracticality of maintaining large amounts of equipment.

Done correctly, an ethnographic film can allow the viewer to experience and understand a culture better than was ever possible through the written word. However, as is the same with a poorly written article or book, the risk associated with a poorly or improperly presented film is that the truth is hidden and a skewed version is allowed to pass for fact. Therefore, before film can become an acceptable method for presenting anthropological research, a system of review comparable to that of the peer-review system for scholarly journals must be established to ensure that bias is exposed and the most accurate account of the whole truth is presented. - END -

Excellent Brendan.  Would such a guide ever be followed?  And could anyone ever decide what would be necessary to include and disclude from the guide?---Tom

 

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[Laurie Sadofsky, las22@geneseo.edu, 9/3]

Jay Ruby- Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 of Picturing Culture

 

Jay Ruby finds the documentaries and anthropological films of the time to be insufficient. According to him, these films are not the work of anthropologists but simply filmmakers without enough experience in the field to understand how to accurately capture the culture and peoples they are filming. Ruby hopes his book will encourage anthropologists to recognize the shortcomings of their work, in his opinion, due to the absence of audiovisual records. Many anthropologists document their fieldwork through speeches, books or articles and in his view this is not enough. Ruby hopes to see more anthropological films that present research results and that go beyond basic classroom instruction.

Ruby writes that "movement, space and time are the cultural variables for which the camera is best suited." Therefore physical activites need to be filmed and not simply written about. Ruby presents an interesting argument to explain why many anthropologists have resisted the use of film. He claims that Western and Christian culture have turned us away from a focus on the body and its movements. Perhaps this is an accurate interpretation given how conservative Western culture is, especially American culture, when compared to other ones. END

 Godd post Laurie.  Adding page numbers to the highlighted areas will improve the quality of this post.  I like the comments about how our culture trains us to avoid or not to focus on the body.  This would be an interesting research topic.---Tom

 

 

 

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[Lok Yung Yam, ly5@geneseo.edu, 9/3]

Jay Ruby- Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 of Picturing Culture

 

Despite its flaws, as listed comprehensively throughout this page, film is instrumental in keeping records of peoples that may or may not exist years from now. It captures life itself like no other medium available today. Although the filming of peoples would be much more constructive if it were more commonplace in the anthropological community, and done with actual anthropologists, I believe filming itself is enough to preserve a group of people. A more "scientific" approach to the subject might keep it more objective, but this is too idealistic of a goal.

Great job Lok.  What sort of changes to the approach would aid in objectivity?  Or would it just limit to scientific viewpoint of the subjects?---Tom

 

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[Dilek Canakci, dc11@geneseo.edu, 9/3]

Jay Ruby- Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 of Picturing Culture

 

Ruby specifically states the importance of ethnographic films and the preparations that a certain film must go through in order to be presentable. He states how an ethnographic film could capture the cultures at different times in order to see the changes that the cultures have been through and see the variation of changes across cultures. It is important to capture the changes that cultures go through because it not only shows how cultures are not always solid and that they have certain reasons for changing their traditions or rules. I think that this is very important for an anthropologist to keep this in mind in order to pass on what they have learned and how the changes occured.

 

Dilek, great job.  Page numbers for the direct references to Ruby would improve the post.  Documenting the change is definitely a useful tool for anthropolgists.  It provides a historical view that allows for the future anthropologists to see where new trends would have come from.---Tom

 

 

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[Charlie Genao, cg7@geneseo.edu, 9/4/07]

Jay Ruby- Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 of Picturing Culture

 

1) Ruby specfically states  (page 23)that most of the so called ethnographic films are made by professional filmmakers and not anthropologisists which means according to him that they are often made in the interest of profit and not for educational reasons. Ruby goes on to say that the earliest attempts to train ethnographic filmmakers at the University of California According to him the emphasis was not on developing a firm theoretical basis for production from within anthropology but on teaching students how to make something professonal filmmakers called a "good" documentary film.(page 23). So actually they turned in to professional filmmakers and thus their flims would me scued and inaccuracy.

 

2) One thing that the chapter got me thinking on is the accuracy of the information being presented and wondering if these films are accurate presentations of a given group's culture. It is tough because people have a natural thing for pleasure so if you put to much complex things in the film that makes these people think too hard they will not watch it. People who are interested in other cultures because they are curious but they are not interested in anthropology.

 

3) One thing that struck me is the cost of making these films that anthropologists don't have the money to do. If they are going to make a film, they usually hire a professional film maker which makes the anthropologists second in command and basically in the mercy of the professional film maker. Since the film maker is in charge and interested in the money, I don't think that film is the best way to present culture unless certain guidelines or something be in place so that this does not occur. Also in on page 24 Ruby says that The overwhelming majority of film festivals are marketplace events designed to enchance the commerical value of the works shown. In doing so the worth of the film increases regardless if is endorsed by an academic institution.

Charlie, good start on the posts, but you need to explain yourself better.  You also need to provide a page number for the highlighted area.    What exactly from the reading got you thinking about the accuracy of information?  What could be done to prevent inaccuracy? Do you see a problem with filmmaking for money in anthropology?  If so, what?---Tom

 

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[Jonathon Baker, jlb22@geneseo.edu , 9/4/07]

Jay Ruby- Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 of Picturing Culture

 

1) The first thing that has struck me is just how dynamic anthropology, specifically ethnography is. Being a biology major, I see a much greater change in how ethnography has been and is being researched than how other scientific fields are researched. (i.e. the scientific method has changed little during the past few hundred years while the way ethnography is conducted has changed a lot and been the subject of much controversy). I suppose this is because human culture is far more dynamic and changes much faster than reptile behavior for example. Also...

2) Culture also has an effect on the study of culture? Example: How does our culture feel about the arguement of "vanishing race" vs. transformation of culture? What thoughts do each evoke?

3) How much has an increased ease of using and obtaining equipment to make films lowered the quality of ethnographic films. (i.e. many people now have video cameras with them 24/7 in the form of a camera phone, you dont have to be a professional to make a video.)

Excellent job Jon.  I like the tie in with biological change and the questions you brought up.  They provide another avenue fo research for others to follow based upon what you have said as well as the material.---Tom

 

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[Alfred Dilluvio, ajd12@geneseo.edu, 9/5]

Jay Ruby- Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 of Picturing Culture

 

Anthropology has a pretty dark and interesting history. From its early conception as what many would call a natural science, it sought to produce universal laws and rules that explained cultures and highlighted similarities between cultures. I call this a dark history because many early anthropologists essentially dehumanized the subjects of their study by claiming the fact that cultures could be studied as other scientific phenomena.

From its conception as a discipline, the theories and methods associated with anthropological schools of thought changed time and time again. One such method that was produced under the structural functionalist school of thought was fieldwork. Participant fieldwork would pave the way for anthropological films which highlighted certain aspects of life in another culture that the FILM MAKER believed was important. It is important to understand that a film made by an anthropologist can never truly be accepted as valid because of the nature of the cinema. It is extremely easy to manipulate the perceptions of the audience through lighting, music, exclusion or omission of important scenes or information, preventing those being filmed the chance to explain, etc. etc. Many times, people will want to watch something because it looks exciting. Maybe an ethnographic film would appeal to someone because it promises sweeping camera images of Mayan pyrimads or visions of natives in their villages with shrunken heads.

What we find exciting or romantic about another culture is neither exciting or romantic to them. Is this fair? I saw an 'ethnography' about a group of natives in the American Southwest that told the tale of ancient cannablism in the area. One cannot simply make these claims without rock hard evidence because it can overwhelmingly affect those who see such a film. I'm just trying to say that anthropology is a senstive discipline. Films make anthropological or ethnographic data readily available to anyone, and we have to make sure that anthropological insights, interpretations, and observations aren't misused as they have been in the past, and that the picture we paint of a different people doesn't come as a shock to those individuals who have so kindly allowed themselves to be studied.

Excellent post Al.  Very concise discussion of your ideas.  I really liked your discussion of the ethical questions that arise when incorporating filmmaking into ethnography.---Tom

 

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[Lanh Nguyen- ltn2@geneseo.edu 9/5/07]

Jay Ruby- Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 of Picturing Culture

 

1. We learn that in order to be great anthropologists we should be unbiased and totally holistic in our research. After reading about the controversies over film and ethnography, we are left to wonder if ethnographic films are actually portraying what they say they are and if the production crew are being completely unbiased and incorporating everything they find into their films.

2. Anthropologists say they are in this business for the overall learning experience and cultural explorations, but why does everything involve money? It's quite ironic.

3. How difficult is it for anyone of us to pick up a video camera or our video phones, capture a clip, and label that an ethnographic film? Perhaps we should all rethink and re-evaluate what we label as an ethnographic material and what is just plainly bogus.

Great job, Lahn.  I like the questions you proposed.  Could a short clip be labeled an ethnographic film?  Is it possible to perform research completely unbiasedly and holistically?  Should these be required to make a great anthropologist and are the so called great anthropologists following this method?---Tom

 

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[Geni Beninati, gb3@geneseo.edu, 9/5]

Jay Ruby- Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 of Picturing Culture

 

1. Ruby clearly states his opinion in the introduction with his comment that ethnographic films and documentaries impede the progress of the development of anthropological films.

2. An explanation is offered as to why there is a lack of anthropological shows on television. Due to the fact that television producers do not necessarily own the rights to their shows, it is easy for modifications to be made by other producers. (pp. 17)

3. I was very surprised by the blatant lie in The Silent Enemy: An Epic of the American Indian (1930).

Geni, you need to provide a page number for the highlighted area.  An otherwise good start, but you need to explain yourself better.  What stuck out to you about his initial opinion?  What was the explantion offered for anthro shows on TV?  What is the problems with the modifications that could be made?  What was the lie you have spoken of and why did it surprise you?---Tom

 

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[Skye Naslund, sjn1@geneseo.edu, 9-12-07]

Jay Ruby- Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 of Picturing Culture

 

1-While unbiased objectivity would be ideal; I do not think that it is at all possible. The idea of being unbiased is, in and of itself, a product of cultural values. In the west we believe that things should be looked at “fairly.” The United States has based its government around the idea. But not all cultures share our desire for equality. Some cultures value the perspective each person brings to a project. The human aspect that opinions and bias add to a work can be what completes it.

2-I think the biggest danger in ethnography through film is the popular concept that film cannot be forged and that it must be fact. Many people are of the opinion that if it is on film then it must have happened and what they don’t realize is that while it may have happened, it is not necessarily in context. Taking things out of context is not only dangerous but causes many cultural misunderstandings that anthropologists do not need to be adding to.

3-Many people equate seeing a film with having been there and it is important to note that this is not the case. While film looks and sounds realistic, it does not make up for having been somewhere and actively interacted with a culture. You can make observations about a culture from film, but they lack the depth brought by an ethnographer who has been to the culture.

 Skye, excellent job.  Your commentary on bias, cultural values and context are really strong and are a great insight to pick up on.  Are observations taken form watching a film less valuable than the observations made by a field worker?  Is this also part of our inherent cultural bias?---Tom

 

 

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[Larkin Kimmerer, llk5@geneseo.edu, 9/22]

Jay Ruby- Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 of Picturing Culture

 

-Ruby spends a lot of time discussing the areas in which ethnographic films fail. He says that "anthropologists literally do not know where to point the camera, when to turn it on or off, and what to do with the film once it is generated." I think that this is something that is not necessarily a huge barrier to filmmaking; bringing a trained film maker or even learning how to do camera work oneself is probably easy enough that it shouldn't be the major problem that Ruby makes it out to be.

-Mead and Bateson's Trance and Dance in Bali used the same tactics that Flaherty used in Nanook of the North: they asked the Balinese to move their ceremony out of the traditional area and hold it during the day rather than at night to create the film. This is like saying it is more important to physically capture interesting facets of the culture in a staged manner than it is to simply observe them how they actually are. If you ask a culture to completely change what they are doing for the interest of a movie, you are no longer doing that culture justice in making the film...

END

Larkin, Great job.  A page number is required for the highlighted area would improve the post.  Does it do the culture more justice to film an aspect in artificial or staged condition or to just observe it an record it?  Would it be better to honor the culture and the natural occurence of a ceremony by not staging it, and lose the visual aspect of that data, or to film it so as to have a record that coudl provide better understanding?---Tom

 

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[Dan McConvey, dpm5@geneseo.edu, 9/29]

Jay Ruby- Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 of Picturing Culture

 

Ruby gives a critical account of ethnographic film.  Capturing a culture on camera seems to be a difficult task.  So many factors aside from the culture itself need to be taken into account in the process of creating an ethnographic film.  Film is not life.  Like art, it is a reflection or interpretation of life.  I think that growing up in a generation filled with an inescapably large amount of “reality television” actually gives us insight on this topic Ruby has written about.  We are sensitive to the fact that film unavoidably skews life.

The interesting aspects of life cannot always be captured on film and the ethnographer must sometimes edit and manifest a story.  Through this we are able to learn about the culture and gain insight about it, but we must never forget that what we are watching is film and that it must be watched with a critical eye.

 END

Great job Dan.  You have very insightful commentary.  A critical eye is always necessary no matter what the medium being observed.---Tom

 

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[Dan Lilly, djl5@geneseo.edu 10/1]

Jay Ruby- Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 of Picturing Culture

 

I like that Ruby isn't in love with ethnographic films, its nice to get a different perspective. It is important to be skeptical of all our sources of information, because of the dangerous assumptions that can come from believing anything we hear. With any type of media, we have to be careful of the author's motives because the fact always remains that they stand to gain money off of a book or film that sells well, regardless of how accurate it is.

Nice work Dan.  Is making money off of the work necessarily a bad thing?  The author's work hard to produce their material, so should they recevie payment for this?  And to what extent?  When does the money issue becaome a problem?---Tom

 

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[Justin Wilmott, jmw23@geneseo.edu 10/22]

Jay Ruby- Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 of Picturing Culture

 

In an effort to understand other cultures we have gone so far as to write books and make videos that will help give us an insight into the lives of a different culture.  However, editing and direction aside, we will never be able to fully capture an entire culture in any such format.  You can't capture a way of life in 2 hours or a thousand page book.  You may be able to glimpse what happens or how people in another culture may think, but unless you grow up in the culture, or physically put your self there I don not believe that you will ever fully know what goes on and why.  For instance, I doubt that anyone fully understands our own culture.  I know I am not the most knowledgeable in it.  That is not to say that we don't contribute but ponder this, if we understood our own culture fully, we would have no problem making laws and up holding them.  Further more, who here or anywhere understands the complete political system of our nation?  We are still baffled by the things that happen in government and politics all the time.  With this being said, even living in a culture will not fully explain and make someone understand what a culture is all about.  Knowing this, how can it be that people think that they may be able to capture an entirely different culture and explain it?  They can't.  When reading, studying or watching ethnographic and anthropologic material, keep in mind that everything is just a window or glimpse into that culture and realize that although you may understand a great deal, you will never be able to comprehend everything about a certain culture.

Excellent job Justin.  Excellent questions and ideas.  Very insightful and unique commentary.  Excellent work.---Tom

 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Hockings, pp 3-10

 

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[Isobel Connors, icc2@geneseo.edu, 9/4]

Hockings pp3-10

Margaret Mead- “ Visual Anthropology in a Discipline of Words”

 

Advances in technology have given anthropologists the power to record, and thus better understand civilizations througout the world; unfortunately, the chance to capture rare and unrecorded behaviors is going to waste. Much of the reservation in using film as a research tool is due to the early practices of anthropology--mainly composed of interviews that revealed oral histories. This emphasis on memory, rather than direct contact with certain traditions and behaviors, resulted in a strong reliance on words.

Film in itself can seem a daunting task to those inexperienced in such technology. Many people are more comfortable with jotting notes than taking the time to set up a camera, as they aren't able to summarize their thoughts in this fashion, but merely capture potentially choppy or monotonous images. Cost is also a factor in ethnographers' aversion to film: why take the time and money to produce a film if one does not know how to manipulate the images into a cohesive account of a culture? Ethnographers remain weary of the camera because it appears to be a very selective process. The anthropological world must learn to move past this apprehension to take advantage of the possibilities film has to offer.

END.

Great job Isobel.  Do you think it is possible for ethnographers to move past their apprehensions?  What makes the process so selective?---Tom

 

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[Cameron Mack, cfm6@geneseo.edu 9/2/07]

Hockings pp3-10

Margaret Mead- “ Visual Anthropology in a Discipline of Words”

 

Film, being the new ethnographic technology, is a truly vital part of recording the actions and rituals of cultures everywhere. Film offers a look into cultures outside of the viewer's normal realm and allows them to witness something different and, hopefully, unique. These films, being unique, can be used as tools for societal learning (not just in societies however). While films such as these can be incredibly helpful, much is lost in the translation. Whatever is lost in the translation may be regained with words.

Cameron, an otherwise strong post, but you need to be more clear on some of your explanations.  What exactly is lost in translation and how exactly do words regain it? Explain this a little more.---Tom

 

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[Stephanie Aquilina sma8@geneseo.edu 8/30]

Hockings pp3-10

Margaret Mead- “ Visual Anthropology in a Discipline of Words”

 

Cultural change throughout the world has been documented predominantly through the written word – making anthropology largely a “science of words” – despite the potential impact (seeing a ceremonious dance, witnessing the collection of food, describing the nature of interpersonal relationships, etc.) on future generations (i.e. descendants of such cultures seeing their ancestors in an animate fashion). While some degree of cultural bias is inevitable, avoiding using motion picture at the expense of losing visual footage of fading cultures is counterproductive. Utilizing a recorder that stays in one spot is a clear way of improving the objectivity of footage.

 

Field ethnologists must learn and employ new technology – mastering the visual form of artistic expression is not a prerequisite for relaying cultural information accurately to academics. This lessens the cost of videotaping, exponentially enhances the quality and efficiency of field research, and limits the focus on appealing to a mass public audience.

 

Accurate portrayals in motion picture are best executed when the ethnographer is also the filmmaker – in fact, incorporating visual footage as a necessary piece of documented research in every expedition could greatly enhance film’s place in ethnography. In the past, technological advances have provided medicines and immunizations, along with the ability to communicate more quickly while in remote areas – taking the time and energy to include visual recordings is the next step to improving anthropological methodology and research.

 

In terms of the ethical creation and use of footage, films can be securely restricted to scientific purposes only, can include full community participation in every step of the filming process, and can be compared to similar footage taken by ethnographers of different cultural backgrounds themselves. END

Excellent post Steph.  The importance of the visual medium in anthropological research cannot be denied.  Ask Dr. Kintz how many photos she has taken in Coba.---Tom

 

(4)

[Skye Naslund sjn1@geneseo.edu]

Hockings pp3-10

Margaret Mead- “ Visual Anthropology in a Discipline of Words”

 

While film is the new technology of ethnography, there is a lot of information that can be missed on film (either through editing, missing a shot, having something happen out of range of the camera, or just subtle non-verbal/non-visual communication) and only be experienced by the anthropologist in person. This leaves note taking to pass on those details lost in video. To paint a comprehensive picture one must combine both old and new strategies.

The debate between filming culture and filming artistically stems from the comparison of each type of film by audiences not realizing that the films were created by different people with different objectives and for different audiences. Viewers don't realize that to gain one effect, the other must be sacrificed. People often look at artistic films about people and confuse it for an ethnographic film, but in making it artistically, appealing shots were cut out, camera angles were changed, and the objectivity of ethnographic film was lost.

Film has become a valuable resource is saving cultures near extinction, but in order to do this films must be made unanalyzed. Many filmmakers try to analyze the culture through the film to make it more interesting for audiences outside of the field of anthropology. The value of film, however, is that we can go back and reanalyze it later. So to film an analysis of a culture as opposed to the culture itself would defeat the purpose and value of the film.

Skye, great work.  Is it possible for an ethnographic film to ever have objectivity?  The importance of the visual media in providing an avenue to look into the past is definitely a strength of using film.---Tom

 

(5)

[Heather Warren, hrw1@geneseo.edu, 8/30]

Hockings pp3-10

Margaret Mead- “ Visual Anthropology in a Discipline of Words”

 

Even though anthropology traditionally serves to study and understand the cultures of the world, it has also become a means of preserving the history and culture of those people who have or will become extinct in our progressing world. Filmmaking has become a means of conveying information and reaching people all over the world about various cultures. However, due to competitive markets and personal bias, information often gets misconstrued.

The commonly accepted, but not particularly accurate, reasons why film has not been used as much as it could be by anthropologists are: 1) that it is hard for many anthropologists to change from the traditional word-of-mouth interviewing that has been so necessary in the past, 2) that it takes more skill and training to film than it does to write or use a voice recorder and flash photography, 3) that it costs too much to purchase and travel with filming equipment, and 4) that many cultures reject filming because they do not want the filmmaker’s bias of their culture to color them badly in the world view. Though filmmaking is commonly believed to be, and often correctly, biased, it is still important to utilize these new technologies to preserve the various cultural heritage for those future generations who have lost touch with their culture due to imposed modernization. - END -

Great post.  Is modernization really imposed though?  Do cultures fight off any invasive modern marvels in favor of traditional ones?  When modernization occurs, wouldn't an aspect of the traditional culture still remain?---Tom

 

(6)

[Jennifer Ritzenthaler, jkr5@geneseo.edu, 8/31]

Hockings pp3-10

Margaret Mead- “ Visual Anthropology in a Discipline of Words”

 

Language is able to disappear when the last speakers of a language die just as living creatures can go extinct, although it seems as though the general public has a greater awareness of the importance of the latter. There is a great amount of information that is lost by not using film and other technology, since film can catch the behavior of a people and preserve it for centuries. Ethnographic inquiries were dependant upon words before film was an option, and there are some who are unwilling to let go in favor of new methods. This may be due to the idea that more specialized skill seems to be necessary to film something rather than to write and tape record; though we do not expect ethnographers to be magnificent writers, so we should not expect them to be amazing filmmakers. In the end, the best kind of work may be done using both a filmmaker and an ethnographer in cooperation and with the least bias possible. END.

I like the tie in to the importance of film to perserve language.  How to you make a film with as little bias as possible?  Is this in itself possible?---Tom

 

(7)

[Dave Roberts, dlr4@geneseo.edu, 9/1]

Hockings pp3-10

Margaret Mead- “ Visual Anthropology in a Discipline of Words”

 

It can be true that “a picture is worth a thousand words.”  Visuals can convey many aspects of a culture or people, such as body movement and physiology, that verbal documentation simply could not convey as clearly. While film as an anthropological tool and resource has the potential to be truly useful, myriad issues prevent the medium from reaching it’s full capacity.

 

Firstly, even accumulating the funds necessary to produce an ethnographic film can prove difficult. Most producers are solely interested in funding projects with the intention of turning a profit, that is, films with the intention to entertain. A true ethnographic film is a scholarly work with no pretense of entertainment value. Unlike a documentary with a somewhat traditional film structure, and that may only take a short while in production, the role of the anthropologist is to spend as much time as possible immersed in the culture being studied. Doing so while simultaneously filming, even from a “fly on the wall” perspective, can be very expensive. Cultural bias, on the behalf of both the filmmaker and the people being studied, can have a undesirable swing on what appears on film. Most times, people producing “ethnographic” films are just filmmakers with no true training or root in the science of anthropology. These are just a few of the many issues and dilemmas of this unrealized medium. END

Great discussion of the ethical dilemmas involved in ethnographic filming.  Are ethnographic films really devoid of an entertainament pretense?---Tom

 

(8)

[Nicole Rothman, ngr1@geneseo.edu, 9/3]

Hockings pp3-10

Margaret Mead- “ Visual Anthropology in a Discipline of Words”

 

Technology can play both a positive and negative roll in anthropology. Technology plays a positive roll in that the best observations and learning experiences are from sources in which multiple senses are used. Therefore something such as a video records both the image and the sound, so not only can we hear the people, but we can see their gestures and movements. This allows for a better understanding and a deeper analysis, it also allows us to revisit and reanalyze the same films in the future. Technology can also play a negative roll, in that, with new methods of recording and documenting data, collecting methods differentiate and are not unified. Another issue with technology is that there is always a relationship between the person behind the camera and the person in front of it; this of course makes it difficult to be objective. Filming is also used to produce feature films and thus often endures a lot of cutting and editing rather than just documenting. END

Great job comparing the positive and negative aspects of technology in ethnography.  Recording gestures and movements is definitely a positive aspect of incorporating technology use into ethnographic work.---Tom

 

 

(9)

[Dilek Canakci, dc11@geneseo.edu, 9/3]

Hockings pp3-10

Margaret Mead- “ Visual Anthropology in a Discipline of Words”

 

Mead talks about how anthropology became important and what anthropologists do in order to keep cultures and languages alive before they disappear forever with its people. She also points out how an anthropologist can always come up with his/her ways of recording their information and how they must do what they are comfortable with instead of following a certain rule. Technology can help certain positive roles but most anthropologists may prefer the old style of taking only pens and notebooks with them to analyze the cultures that they are working on. At the same time, films can provide us with information that the notebooks may miss.

Dilek, a page number for the highlighted area would improve this post.  The emphasis you placed on the differing methods of data collection used by different researchers is important.  Would a field worker benefit from incorporating both aspects in their ethnographic work, or would that be to much to manage?---Tom

 

(10)

[Anne Kim, ak13@geneseo.edu, 9/3]

Hockings pp3-10

Margaret Mead- “ Visual Anthropology in a Discipline of Words”

 

Margaret Mead discusses the importance of conserving history through the media. She explains the difficulty of preserving this history that is slowly slipping through the world’s fingers. Thus, due to the straining work, anthropologists have created methods that would ease the workload of preserving the past. Mead then further explains the disadvantages and advantages of the progressing technology. The disadvantage is that there will somehow be an interaction or impact of the cameraman on what he is filming. Therefore, the film recorded won’t be as accurate. However, an advantage is that the cameraman will be able to playback and study the film in more detail. This results in the fact that researchers that use whichever media must use the media in detail in order for the information to be correctly depicted.

Page numbers are required for the highlighted areas.  Should or does the impact of the cameraman have a negative effect as we claim it does?---Tom

 

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[Laurie Sadofsky, las22@geneseo.edu, 9/9]

Hockings pp3-10

Margaret Mead- “ Visual Anthropology in a Discipline of Words”

 

1-Mead states anthropology is a field based on words because all the information obtained in the past was from questioning informants. Often these informants gave information on activities and people no longer in existence.

2-Although artistically creative ethnographic films are great, their purpose is to convey a culture and the information gathered by the anthropologist during his or her fieldwork.

3-These films allow the preservation of culture for anthropologists and also the descendants of those being filmed. This could allow a group to bring back certain practices or traditions that otherwise would be lost. Mead believes films are more important today than ever before since cultures are blending and some are simply being lost. As a result the way things are now need to be recorded before they disappear forever.

-END-

The highlighted areas need page numbers.  You need to explain some things a little better to improve this post.  Why is it important that the informants provide info on people who are no longer around?  What is the issue/Why is is important that film portrays the ethnographer's fieldwork?---Tom

 

 

(12)

[Lanh Nguyen, ltn2@geneseo.edu, 9/9]

Hockings pp3-10

Margaret Mead- “ Visual Anthropology in a Discipline of Words”

 

Film has taken the form of canvases for anthropologists. The film that is developed by antrhopologists become the background and layout for how others view the culture being portrayed.

 

Subjectivity vs. Objectivity: How are anthropologists truely able to be unbiased and objective to another culture's way of life if it's so unfamiliar and barbaric? For instance, the Yanomamo tradition of cremating their deceased realtives, making a banana stew out of their remains, and drinking it so that they always have a part of their relative with them. How bizzarre is this right?!

 

Why are natural scientists allowed to utilize developing technology, i.e. microscopes, high tech computures, radar systems, to enhance their research but anthropologists are looked down upon when film is used?

END

I like the way you pose questions, such as the double standard between the sciences and anthropology.  Is it really so odd that the Yanomamo drink stew with the ashes of their dead?  From our culture it seems extremely odd, but in their culture it is the norm.---Tom

 

[13]

 

[Charlie Genao, cg7@geneseo.edu 9/15]

 

According to Hockings the anthropolgists used to do so much work and since anthropolgoy has a lot of braches like language customs enviroment etc. Anthropolgy is a holistic displine so when Hockings says on page 3 "There have never been enough workers to collect the remnants of these worlds" This means that people have never been able to fully grasp and record the culture because it has so many componets and the techology was lacking. But when carbon dating became avaliable and other technologies the methods of getting information in sub fields improved. There are many cultures fading away with out record so they send field work with only paper and pencil. Although he points out the develpoment of film is good work still needs to be done. He talks about the anthrpologist that mean well in wanting to produce an accurate film but they get sucked in the whole busness thing were making profit is important he talks about the corruption. I think that we need to find a way to better fund it. Also the specializtion that it requires is also tough taking pictures is not like taking a taping recorder you need to be very skilled.

This post needs work Charlie.  What issues would harm the accuracy? Provide a few examples.  Why is this bad?  What is the issue with people acting differently when they are film?  Why does the inexperience in film of anthropologists lead them to do just interviewing? Explain the logic behind this.  What should they avoid when using film?  How would this make film a better tool?---Tom

 

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[Elen De Oliveira, emd10@geneseo.edu, 9/21]

Hockings pp3-10

Margaret Mead- “ Visual Anthropology in a Discipline of Words”

 

1.  It is interesting that Hockings brings up the fact that just like species of animals can become extinct, causing sadness for most people, there are languages and people as well that suffer the same fate, without many people even realizing.

 

2.  Although verbal descriptions were counted on and clung to when recording information of a dying people or way of life, Hocking shows that when it comes down to it, film and photography are very important.  Without these improvements in technology, we could only visualize in our heads the things that are being described, and never really know or get a chance to really see and experience them.

 

3.  I think it is necessary for the ethnographer and/or filmmaker not to affect the culture and people being filmed too much.  If this film is to be a reminder of how things were, as many of them are, it should be authentic.  In generations to come, descendents should be able to look at real life, and not an influenced act.  The way they are seeing their ancestors should be how they really were.

Page numbers for the highlighted area.  Excellent. Can we truly experience a culture via the improvements in technology?  Can they ever truly see their ancestors as how they were, even through film?---Tom

 

 

(15)

[Lok Yung Yam, ly5@geneseo.edu, 9/21]

Hockings pp3-10

Margaret Mead- “ Visual Anthropology in a Discipline of Words”

 

1. I definitely agree when Hockings says film and photograph are better ways to record human culture than just writing. Film can record people living, while writing is just a description of living through a third party.

 

2. Even though enthnographers and filmmakers may affect the people they are filming, I think it is still better than a record kept through writing. Writing can be much more biased, and unreliable.

 

3. Film is by far our best method of preserving culture until the next technological advancement comes by; even then, film will have its place in history as the record we have now.

 An other wise good post.   Page numbers for the highlighted area.  Why is writing more biased and unreliable?  Why is film the best method we have?  Is film really all that unbiased and reliable than written ethnography?---Tom

 

 

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[Larkin Kimmerer, llk5@geneseo.edu, 9/22]

Hockings pp3-10

Margaret Mead- “ Visual Anthropology in a Discipline of Words”

 

-Mead says that a problem with ethnographic film is the relationship between the ethnologist/filmmaker and those being studied. It cannot be helped that the filmmaker's view  of the culture will be somewhat imposed upon the film. I think that this is definitely true and can be seen in all the videos we have seen: Flaherty showed the Inuit the way he wanted them to appear--primitive and jovial--not the way that they lived with modern technologies. Nanook Revisited showed bias because it was exposing Flaherty's own bias. It isn't reasonable to expect every filmmaker to be completely objective, but that's human nature...we're not objective, and as Mead says it cannot "ever be entirely prevented."

END

 Great job, biases are always present.  They are engrained in us via our culture.  A bias is always evident in any production of film, ethnography, or what not.  Do these biases devalue the material created or enhance it?---Tom

 

 

(17)

[Brendan Ryan, bmr4@geneseo.edu, 9/22]

Hockings pp3-10

Margaret Mead- “ Visual Anthropology in a Discipline of Words”

 

The use of film as a medium for presenting ethnographic research can give the viewer a greater understanding and appreciation for the subtleties of a culture that the written word simply can not acheive.  Seeing and hearing with one's own eyes and ears takes some of the imagination out of the equation which is necessary when reading.  That said, the ethnographic researcher is burdened with the task of maintaining neutrality and an unbiased stance when presenting his or her research.  This can be difficult since much of the time bias finds a way to sneek into a work without the knowledge of the filmmaker.  While this is also true in print based mediums, the review system for presenting ethnographic film work does not come close to being as rigorous for film and so makes it more difficult to discern exactly how accurate a film is.

END

Great.  Is it ever possible to be neutral and unbiased?  A review system would definitely aid in films being accepted further in the scholarly realm. ---Tom

 

(18)

[Dan McConvey, dpm5@geneseo.edu 9/29]

Hockings pp3-10

Margaret Mead- “ Visual Anthropology in a Discipline of Words”

 

Mead talks about the actual use of the information that is being collected by anthropologists.  Some of the information that has been done is about cultures and traditions which are no longer in existence.  Film as well as voice recording can capture things that could not be captured by simply writing an account. 

What Mead is talking brings Hebrew to mind.  Several languages have died without any chance of revival.  Hebrew is said to be one of the few languages that was labeled “dead” and then to be completely revived.  The language was revived from writing and unfortunately some vocalic sounds were lost because they were never written down in the language.  This can be compared to what film can do for languages.  The sounds of the languages will not be lost through the use of film, which is another reason why it is valuable to anthropology.  Anthropologists can go back and review the details of their films as well as the films of other anthropologists and get a much better interpretation than by just using field notes.

Excellent.  The tie in to perserving the sounds of a language via film is a great advantage of film to point out.---Tom

 

(19)

[Dan Lilly, djl5@geneseo.edu 9/30]

Hockings pp3-10

Margaret Mead- “ Visual Anthropology in a Discipline of Words”

 

Its interesting the way ethnographic film can be used as a method of preserving cultures. Its a little silly, but its neat to imagine how much more we would know about the history of the world if ancient civilizations had similar capabilities. Its also crazy to think about people hundreds of years from now looking at the films being made today. When you think of it that way, its almost scary, because you really start to wonder how accurate such films are.

Excellent.  That is an intersting thing to think about.  What would they think?  It would probably be comedy to them...silly 20th century people...they still believe in gravity!! **insert laugh track**---Tom

 

(20)

[Rebecca Coons, rsc2@geneseo.edu 10/05]

Hockings pp3-10

Margaret Mead- “ Visual Anthropology in a Discipline of Words”

 

First off, the name "Margaret Mead" brings up all kinds of criticisms about methods of anthropology, but film is perhaps one of the best ways to record a culture. Visually it enables future anthropologists to leave little up to the imagination so it can serve to present a more accurate picture when used in conjunction with written work. I think in general film is a great supplement to anthropological work, but at the same time it is an art form so a lot of film is at the director's discretion to represent accurately. There's a fine line between fiction and reality, especially when film is thrown into the mix, and thousands of years from now people are going to look at movies from this time period and who knows what that will represent as far as our culture goes. Even documentary films have to be accompanied by real hard copies of field work and anthropology.

-END-

Excellent.  Films and written ethnography should go hand in hand.  They would serve to enhance each other.  I like the delineation between reality and fiction.  What would represent our culture?  Obviously the following...Disney, McDonalds, and those little plastic thigns on the end of shoe laces. Haha.---Tom

 

(21)

[Shamiran Warda sw11@geneseo.edu 10/07]

Hockings pp3-10

Margaret Mead- “ Visual Anthropology in a Discipline of Words”

 

I actually found this reading very interesting for I actually learned more about anthropology, such as how anthropology has actually ten conglomerate areas of discipline. Yes, film is important and all but so are the other methods out there that help in producing an ethnographical piece.  I also found it interesting how the book talked about the old ways such as how the fieldworkers had to rely more on the memory of the informants rather than upon observation of contemporary events and how the relying of words was the most important thing out there, and thus anthropology was known and became the science of words. I never thought of anthropology as an actual science of words. -END
Excellent.  Why is improtant that anthropology is a science of words?  Does it help or harm the discipline to be known as such?---Tom

 

 (22)

[Jonathon Baker, jlb22@geneseo.edu, 10/15]

Hockings pp3-10

Margaret Mead- “ Visual Anthropology in a Discipline of Words”

 

1.  I feel as though an interesting point that the author brings up is the fact that cost of technology has hindered progress in anthropology much more than it has in other realms of science.  Why is it that anthropologists have failed in using the best technology possible to preserve cultures that are fading and changing for future generations?

 

 

2.   Clearly so much culture now is lost that could have been captured on film had film technology been invented only several decades earlier and if films were more focused on science than entertainment.

 

 

3.  The author brings up the excellent point that it is very difficult to determine how to train an ethnographic filmmaker.  Are you to train them first as an anthropologist then as a filmmaker or vice versa?  Obviously there could be temptation for a director to tweak some authenticity to gain more interest in the film.

 Great.  Is it that anthropologists have failed to use the best technology or is it only know being realized that this is the best technology?  Are cultures truly lost or do they just change?  ---Tom

 

 

-END-

 

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[Kaitlyn Northrop, krn3@geneseo.edu, 8/30]
 
Hockings-“Visual Anthropology in a Discipline of Words”
 
1.)   Each year some language spoken only by one or two survivors disappears forever with their deaths. It is interesting that so many languages exist and yet most people only know of and speak the common ones and those languages that are lost are not really missed because no one knew much about them.
2.)   It is interesting how ethnography was compared to the other sciences in terms of technological advancements. Ethnologists should get the same new resources as other scientists as their findings are equally important as the findings of modern scientists.
3.)   Ethnographers must have interest in filmmaking and vice versa, otherwise the two won't jive. It is best if one person is both because then the best aspects of both can be recorded.
 
-END-
Excellent. The loss of a language means the loss of an entire way of thinking, and in conjunction an entire culture.  Including both filmmaker and ethnographer in one individual would defintely be a strong aspect in a researcher.---Tom
 
 (24)

[Adam Saunders, ars11@geneseo.edu, 10/22]

Hockings Pgs. 8-30

 

1)Hockings states that Anthropology is a science of words. At times pictures and video cannot accomplish the same things as words can. For instance as in the book, certain rituals are no longer done and the only way to learn about them is through word of mouth since a display of the actual ritual is forbidden.

 

2) The repeated argument that all recording and filming is selective rather than objective can be answered as both yes and no. The way film is shot will decide on if this is true or not. A filmmaker is selective on how he shoots the film, but he can also be objective about it.

 

3) An objective film is one in which the camera does not move. If it is stationary, we are not given any angles or forcusing that may tilt the interest of the ethnography in any way.

-END-

Page numbers needed for highlighted area.   Why would it be bad to  move the camera?  In what ways will it tilt the focus of the ethography?  How can a filmmaker be selective and objective at the same time?---Tom

 

(25)

[Geni Beninati, gb3@geneseo.edu, 10/22]

Hockings, pgs 3-10

 

1) Mead clearly states the purpose of ethnographic film making as being to make a record of existing cultures because “…forms of human behavior still extant will inevitably disappear.”

 

2) Mead believes that not enough is being done to record many cultures that are difficult to reach.  It is mentioned that simply visiting a villages with a notebook and questionnaires is nowhere near enough to properly record a culture.

 

3) On pg. 7 Mead mentions that biases cannot realistically be prevented, but that is not a good enough reason for cultures to not be filmed.  “…the isolated group or emerging new nation that forbids filmmaking for fear of disapproved emphases will be far more than it gains.”

-END-

Include page numbers for highlighted areas.  Explain the relevance in the purpose of making ethnograpohic films.  Why is it important to capture disappearing behavior?  What steps should be taken to properly record a culture if traditional fieldworkis not enough?  Film only, or other media and methods as well? Explain the relevance of your point on biases.  What is the relevance of the quote to your point?  Explain why you included it.---Tom

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