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Readings (due September 13)

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 11 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]

 

 

Kroeber - Ishi in Two Worlds

 

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[Larkin Kimmerer, llk5@geneseo.edu, 9/12]

 

Kroeber - Ishi in Two Worlds

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The first chapters of Ishi that describe the years of raids in the late 1800s between the Yana Indians and the California settlers are engaging and effective. The firsthand accounts of scalpings, kidnappings, and movements of Yana Indians are really powerful. I think that most of the general public never really thinks about the "removal" of Native Americans in the years since 1492. Probably because it is an anthropological biography of Ishi, it does not try to gloss over what was done to tribes such as the Yana (or any tribe anywhere in the country, for that matter). Comments like Anderson's (page 67), "there was not a bad Indian to be found, but about forty good ones lay scattered about," bring to light the horrors of genocide that were very real a hundred years before this book was even published. I haven't finished the book, but I want to read more about Ishi himself, being the last remaining member of his otherwise completely extinct tribe. It is hard for us to fathom an entire tribe/race of people being eradicated in the United States, but it happened for many, many years. Ishi in Two Worlds is a moving account of this part of our history. END

Great job Larkin.  This book portrays a part of our history that most do not know about.  Hope you enjoyed the rest of it.---Tom

 

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[Dave Roberts, dlr4@geneseo.edu, 9-13-07]

 

Kroeber - Ishi in Two Worlds

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1.) The culture of the Yahi was on steeped in tradition and values. Take for example the Yahi approach to hunting. Almost ceremonial and ritualistic in a way, The Yahi needed to prepare, physically, mentally and spiritually before his journey. He would abstain from sex. He would not use tobacco before a hunt. He wouldn't even eat before departing, only allowing himself food after he had killed it with the weapons he had made himself. This level of discipline and respect ran through all aspects of Yahi culture.

 

2.) I found it interesting the Yahi men and women had different dialects. Yahi men spoke in a more drawn out, elaborate fashion, while the women had a clipped version of the language, usually only saying the first few syllables of a word. When men spoke to the women, they also "dumbed down" their vocabularies. I wonder how this way of speaking began...

 

3.) Kroeber does not address the killing of the Indians in such a one sided manner as does the film. She notes, on multiple occasions, that the Yahi did in fact kill white people, whether for retaliation or other reasons. Although they may not have been aware of the notion of "stealing" from the whites, many Indians were killed after having taken something the white man percieved as his property. I am in no way condoning anyone's acts of violence, but merely noting that Kroeber lends a more even perspective on the violence that led to the extermination of the Yahi.

Do we exhibit any respect for our food in our culture?  Or do we take it for granted?  Do you think the same type of linguistic variation exists in other socieites?  Sociolinguistics may provide some answers to you curiosity.  Why do you suppose they took the white man's property?  Do you think they had a different view of property in their culture?---Tom

 

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[Elen De Oliveira, emd10@geneseo.edu, 9/13]

 

Kroeber - Ishi in Two Worlds

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1. The author is constantly going back and forth between speaking directly about Ishi and going back through history to speak of other tribes as well as Ishi's tribe. Although at times this can become annoying when you simply want to know about Ishi and his experiences, it helps the reader to better understand where he comes from, what he believes in, and why he acts the way he does. The language that they speak at length about, for example, helps the readers to realize that this is where Ishi got his demeanor from. His politeness and respect for others came from his language and the way he was brought up.

 

2. "A person with a skin color different from their own was thought to be intellectually and morally inferior"(45). I don't understand why throughout history, Caucasians have though of themselves as so superior to other races. From Indians, to African Americans, to Immigrants and beyond, they have continuously treated those with different skin tones and ways of life as if they were less worthy. What gave them the right to assume that this land that was already inhabited belonged to them? What gave them the right to kill all of these people and essentially bring their people to extinction? Even today, our society as a whole believes themselves to be better than those less fortunate countries, but aside from our wealth and progressiveness, we really are no better.

 

3. "As in almost every similar instance in American History, the first act of injustice, the first spilling of blood, must be laid at the white man's door"(64). It is interesting to wonder how different history would be if the "white men" hadn't spilled blood in all of these pivotal times in history. What if they hadn't driven these tribes to extinction or forced African Americans into slavery? What if we hadn't gotten involved in the affairs of other countries to the point of war? Perhaps Ishi's race would still be alive if the white men had only left them alone.

 Excellent.  The historical background is defintiely a key part to any ethnography.  His language's effect on his demeanor definitely is an example of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis at work.  Why do suppose we have behaved that way?  What in our history would lead to this outcome?  It is a part of our culture?  Can we ever move away from it?---Tom

 

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Charlie Genao cg7@geneseo.edu

 

Kroeber - Ishi in Two Worlds

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1. Its interesting the fact the book was written by his wife but I wonder if the book would be more accurate if the Krober himself had wrote it. I just thougt that since her husband was the one out with Ishi I thought it would be more accurate but I guess that is not always true.

 

2. I sometimes think that if the white man would not have come things would of be different but also I think that it was going to happen anyway because people are naturally curious to see what out there. Sometimes I think that maybe the Indians would have gone to Europe but not anymore. I realized when that the term "Indian" is a European raical label designed to lump them altogether to then systematically discrimate them. The "Indians" never  viewed them selves as Indians, they did distinguish themselves through tribes. Each tribe had its beliefs and culture and among other things.

 

 

3. Overall I think the book is interesting because it was written by his wife. I also was suprise to see that Ishi forgave the white mans actions. I used to think that there were no cultures that emphisis peace, that thier was such a thing as a peaceful culture but I guess I was wrong.

What leads you to think this about the book?  Why is it interesting that the book was written by his wife?  How would Kroeber provide an added level of accuracy?  What leads you yo beleive your second statement?  Support yourself.  What things would be different? Be specific.  Why did you think the book was interesting?  What aspects?  Provide an example and explain why you found it interesting---Tom

 

 

 

-END-

 

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[Jennifer Ritzenthaler, jkr5@geneseo.edu, 9/16/07]

 

Kroeber - Ishi in Two Worlds

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1. It’s interesting that Kroeber’s wife was the one who ended up writing a book about Ishi, using his notes and research. Was this due to Kroeber feeling responsible for Ishi’s death?

 

2. I wonder if Ishi thought that his life at the museum was the way all white people lived, and that was why he liked it, or whether it was due to the fact that he was able to be around remnants of his tribe and other Native American tribes.

 

3. The description of Ishi hunting only for food and using every part of the animal he could, while also abstaining from certain foods and activities beforehand, provides insight into the Yahi people’s respect for animals and the seriousness they brought to hunting.

END.

For your second statement, what makes you wonder this?  Did Ishi do something in the reading to insight this reaction in you?  What is the relevance of this respect they have for animals?  What insight does it provide?  For you first question, read the prologue, it provides the answer to your inquiry---Tom

 

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[Lanh Nguyen, ltn2@geneseo.edu, 9/17]

 

 

Kroeber - Ishi in Two Worlds

1. Ishi knew of white men only that they were the murders of his own people.”

They locked him up in the cell for the insane.”

You can’t help but to feel admiration yet at the same time anger towards Ishi for being so compliant. Even after all that was done to his fellow people, Ishi still had the strength to live with the whites and assimilate into their culture without any shown hatred.

2. This book thoroughly explained kinship terminology and its importance in the relationships of a family. The Yana Indians’ history and traditions were also explained in the beginning chapters.—it’s always fascinating to learn about cultural taboos and how ridiculous some are compared to our cultural beliefs.

3. “You can’t tell one Indian from another…Yana found themselves too indifferent to making distinctions between one white person and another.” (49-50)

Ironically, both cultures were going through the same difficulties of trying to decipher who was who. This is EXACTLY like our culture today. You hear people say how all blacks look alike, all Asians are the same, and whites are all white. It’s interesting how these ethnocentric views change so minutely throughout history.

-END-

Was Ishi actually being complacent?  Do you think he could have been lonely?  OR was their a part of his culture that allowed him to forgive the white men for their actions?  Some of our cultural beliefs and norms may be viewed as odd and ridiculous in other cultures.  Are all these groups really even that different though?  Or is it an absolutely cultural and social phenomenon that leads to us picking out these differences?---Tom

 

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[Heather Warren, hrw1@geneseo.edu, 9/17]

 

Kroeber - Ishi in Two Worlds

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  1. Reading about how selfish settlers were makes me sick. It is depressing to think that people could become that uncivilized and claim that they are more civilized than the far more peaceful native peoples who lived in the areas settlers took over.
  2. It impresses me how Ishi and his people were so attuned to their native lands, how they knew everything about the world they lived in and treated that world with the deepest respect. I feel as if such a life would be more advantageous and far more enjoyable if we all were to live that way. Unfortunately, cultures that seek to take more, use up resources, all for the name of progress ruin the chances of those cultures who do not share this view.
  3. I think that Ishi is such an amazing man and that everyone could have learned so much from him, if only people had regarded him as a teacher rather than an interesting curiosity. END

 It is horrendous what they did to the Indians.  Why do you think they did this though?  Do you think that they were just responding according to how tehir culture mandated them to?  Wouldn't it be great if everyone treated the world as the Yahi and other groups did/do?---Tom

 

 

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{Cameron Mack, cfm6@geneseo.edu, 9/18}

 

Kroeber - Ishi in Two Worlds

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1. I was surprised to find that Kroeber's wife was the one who ended up writing a book about Ishi. After watching the film, and discovering that Kroeber did not utter a word about Ishi after his death, this made more sense.

2. It's hard to believe that Ishi was able to give himself up to the white man after experiencing many of the situations that he did with them. The settlers were difficult to read about. His compliancy was surprising, yet understood due to his situation.

3. Had Ishi been treated in a different manner he may have taught people more about not only his culture, but also about life in general. He lived his life in a way that all can respect and identify with. It is unfortunate that Ishi entered a white world not yet prepared for someone of his kind.

What was Ishi's situation? Provide some information regarding it.  Read the prologue and it will provide explanation as to why his wife wrote and compiled the book.  Do you think that we will ever be ready for an individual such as Ishi?---Tom

 The fact that his tribe was heavily disturbed by the white man, and also that they could likely be responsible for the death of his tribe make it very ironic. The irony that I speak of, being that the white man considers himself as a benefactor in Ishi's life, which is most likely the opposite. These accusations could be incorrect, but I think that the book eludes to this. Ishi, while embracing some of the change brought upon him, was manipulated and used by the white man. Had they not interfered to begin with, Ishi's tribe might have been able to survive and raised him properly.

No matter how prepared we might think that we are for a person like Ishi, I don't believe that we will ever really be ready. The concept of an individual such as Ishi being discovered would send our culture and society into an area of speculation and question. Some good could come from it, but likely the side of greed and misfortune would be the victor...unfortunately.

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[Dan Lilly, djl5@geneseo.edu, 9/21]

 

Kroeber - Ishi in Two Worlds

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Ishi's attitude upon entering society was really astounding. His desire to assimilate into American culture was unique, almost in a loveable way. I can't imagine how I would act if I were put in the same situation in which Ishi found himself. His demeanor and strength of character are admirable, especially given his troubled past with white people.

Short post.  Explain more about the troubles Ishi experienced with white people.  Provide specifics and explain your reactions to them.---Tom

 

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[Rebecca Coons, rsc2@geneseo.edu, 9/23]

 

Kroeber - Ishi in Two Worlds

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- I was unpleasantly surprised by the actions of the settlers. Years of American History classes taught us that we had all but made Native American culture extinct, but I wasn't prepared to hear the story of someone who lost his entire culture. And the white settlers thought the natives were the savage ones.

- I was equally ashamed of Kroeber and the people who worked at the museum with him. They may have been trying to help Ishi adjust to a new world, but they also made him their own personal freak show. I can almost see the posters in my head "come and see Ishi, the last of the savages"

- It is such a shame that we couldn't learn from Ishi the way we have learned from other cultures. Without being able to communicate properly with Ishi, the only record of his culture was trapped in his head and there was no way to extract that information for the rest of the world to learn. END

This just goes to show you how biased our education system is towards telling us the actual facts that have occurred.  Can you understand why Kroeber and the others put him on display as such?  What about the time they lived in could have spurred this?  The death of a language is the death of a culture, and an entire way of thought.  Horrible isn't it?---Tom

 

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[Brendan Ryan, bmr4@geneseo.edu, 9/23]

 

Kroeber - Ishi in Two Worlds

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While the actions of the Kroeber and the other anthropologists working with Ishi certainly weren't up to par with the standards that modern anthropolgists work under, they helped provide the foundation for a new field of scientific study. These people were making the rules as they went along, and while I'm not trying to condone what to me is a form of exploitation, I am sympathetic to the fact that what these people were doing had never been done before and so they had to make some difficult judgements. I thoguht the most interesting part of the book were Ishi's reactions to his new environment. I think most people would have a hard time adjusting and I'm sure Ishi did but he seemed to handle it better than most people would.

Why do you think Ishi was able to cope the way he did?  Do you think it was part of his character or part of his culture?  What aobut circumstance?  What can we learn as anthropologists from the action of Kroeber and his researchers?  How can we use this information to do better as researchers ourselves?---Tom

 

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[Dilek Canakci, dc11@geneseo.edu, 9/24]

 

Kroeber - Ishi in Two Worlds

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I thought this book was both sad and revolting. I thought Kroeber completely took advantage of Ishi in order to make a name for himself. Ishi never once disrespected anyone and always agreed to teach others about his culture. He did this for others so that his culture would not be forgotten. I have so much respect for Ishi but also hope that he was never taken advantage by trying to do such a positive thing for people. He did a good thing and taught us about his culture from an emic perspective and revealed how his culture worked by talking about the kinship system, traditions, his own family and struggles.

Why do you suppose Ishi never got angry?  Do you think he viewed it as being taken advantage of?  Ishi was definitely able to provide a lot of information about his culture, but what else can we learn form the story of Ishi?---Tom

 

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{Isobel Connors,icc2@geneseo.edu, 9/25}

 

Kroeber - Ishi in Two Worlds

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  1. Kroeber’s narrative of Ishi’s background and experiences seems to be misleading. From the beginning, I was a bit skeptical of this ethnography, as the story makes certain assumptions of Ishi’s perceptions of the “modern world” that appear to be more from the author’s standpoint. Kroeber portrays Ishi as Flaherty depicts Nanook—in a constant state of innocent wonderment. Because of his primitiveness, the author unintentionally renders Ishi a simpleton.

  1. I was intrigued by the fact that a “California Indian almost never speaks his own name, using it but rarely with those who already know it, and he would never tell it in reply to a direct question” (127-128). I wonder what beliefs caused this discreetness.

  1. Waterman’s comment, “that the only solution he saw was to put Ishi in an exhibition case during visiting hours, where people could see him but would at least be prevented from touching him” (134) disturbed me greatly. I was shocked to learn in class that this was common practice in the early 20th century. Why anyone would find this a rational action is beyond me.

Do you think that the 'author's' perspective was Kroeber's or his wife's?  Do you think Ishi was genuniely awed by American society?  From the rest of the reading, isn't it made clear that Ishi was not a simpleton, at least not in his own cultural context?  That is a peculiar practice isn't it?  What lies in the name that makes the possesor wary of sharing it?---Tom

 

 

 

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[Jonathon Baker, jlb22@geneseo.edu, 9/27]

 

Kroeber - Ishi in Two Worlds

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1. I dont think that no matter how hard anyone tried, that they could quite empathize with the cultural and technological shock that Ishi must have experienced. I cant even imagine never seeing more then a few people in one place for my whole entire life and then going to a metropolis like San Francisco.

 

2. I feel like so much more could have been accomplished with Ishi. Kroeber should have done all the scientific research that was started just prior to Ishi's death much sooner instead of just displaying him in a museum as a novelty. Oh well....greed is a powerful thing.

 

3. I am glad that by the end of his life there were several people that regarded Ishi as a true friend. Without that knowledge, I would have felt much worse about the whole thing. No wonder Kroeber felt so guilty that he never spoke of Ishi after his death.

 

END.

Do you think greed was Kroeber's sole motivation for his treatment of Ishi?  Could he have been attempting to share the culture?  As powerful as greed is, guilt is more so.---Tom

 

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[Dan McConvey, dpm5@geneseo.edu, 10/6]

 

Kroeber - Ishi in Two Worlds

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1. I think that it is interesting that Kroeber’s wife is the one who wrote this book. It says a lot for how close Kroeber became with Ishi, that he could not bear to write about his friend. Ishi had moved from being Kroeber’s project to someone who Kroeber cared for. Even though, from a modern perspective Krober did treat Ishi as though he were subhuman in some regards, I do think that Kroeber felt very strongly about his relationship with Ishi.

 

2. It was frustrating to see Ishi in a sort of limbo between the two worlds. He could not share his own culture with the new culture that he faced. I find it very sad that, had there been a much greater emphasis on learning Ishi’s language we would have a much better understanding of his culture.

 

 

3. I think that it is very easy to criticize the beginnings of Anthropology as a science. The perspective of the anthropologists was racist and definitely not what anthropology focuses on today, but I must give the some anthropologists credit, for without their trial and error, anthropology would not have evolved as a science to what it is today. We may find some absurdity in the use of the four humors of ancient Greece in modern medicine today but without practicing medicine in the first place we would not have reached the points we are at now in modern medicine. All science must have some beginning.

 

-END-

 

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[Shamiran Warda, sw11@geneseo.edu, 10/7]

 

Kroeber - Ishi in Two Worlds

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1. This book, indeed, goes more in depth about the Yana people than the movie entitled “Ishi- The Last Yahi” did. Thus, in my opinion, I felt the book was more interesting than that of the movie, even though at times the movie and the book went hand in hand, especially the second part of the book. I strongly believe that this book exposed us to more to the reality of the Yahi background; therefore, it opened our eyes to see and learn more about the Yana people from California.

 

2. In all, I found many parts of the book very interesting to read such as the history of the Yana people and how they survived for generations without assistance from other people. I also found it interesting to learn how close their kinship was; for instance, how they never left their tribes for another unless if the tribe placed pressure on one to leave because of some crime they were guilty of. Furthermore, I had never known that the word “digger” was used to label the Native Americans, especially those unknown by the whites. It is sad to see how far the white population went in showing their superiority.
3. One thing I noticed that was different between the movie and the book was how each drew the picture of Ishi in the Jail and the museum. The movie made it seem like he was in some horrible setting, whereas the book drew a nicer view of how he was treated in the jail and all. For instance in the book it talked about how people donated clothes and shoes for Ishi, despite the fact he declined the shoes. And how when the people heard Ishi refused to eat, the people would sent him specially prepared dished to tempt his appetite again. Whereas in the movie Ishi was seen in ragged clothing looking hunger and very unclean. In all, you can not completely trust either source because, in reality, it only show s what the author and director wanted to his or her audience to see and read about.

-END

 

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[Steph Aquilina sma8@geneseo.edu 10/9]

 

Ishi in Two Worlds

 

1. BOOK STRUCTURE: Information about the creator of a piece of work is crucial to understanding the work’s value, intentions, and motivations. The fact that the author was not personally involved with Ishi and was not responsible for collecting any of the data was a little unfortunate. Moreover, that she related her feelings of obligation and almost resentment toward the book’s production along with such relief when it was finally completed, were very displeasing and cast a negative shadow over the rest of the book.

2. LANGUAGE: The Yahi split dialects based on gender, but both were mutually intelligible. Even when they were in hiding and running for their lives, they still maintained the formality and politeness of speaking and behaving they had been raised to uphold.

3. POLITICS: No explicit weapons existed among the Yahi people. They utilized simply the tools with which they lived, such as harpoons, spears, and bows and arrows, to defend their territory or attack an enemy. Their neighbors, the Maidu and the Wintun feared them for being aggressive fighters.

-END-

 

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[Anne Kim, ak13@geneseo.edu, 10/10]

 

Ishi in Two Worlds by T. Kroeber

 

1. Theodora Kroeber does an excellent job portraying the difference in culture between her people and the Indians. For example, she begins the book by describing the Gold Rush in California at the time, where mining camps and saw and grist mills are scattered throughout the land. However, if you look on the other side, there are families hunting and just blending into nature, even with the clothes they wear.

2. Kroeber puts great emphasis on the history of the Yana people, which also gives them great respect for their traditions and culture. Kroeber goes in-depth to illustrate their geography and origins. Kroeber explains how some tribes came to be and how some vanished throughout history, which is why she talks about the Yana people with much excitement.

3. Kroeber illustrates the relationship between the Indians and the people of California. She recalls that the Indians were once called, “diggers”. She states, “Digger remains to this day a term of derogation, like “nigger.” This shows how little respect the “white men” had for the Indians. They judged them right away because the Indians weren’t planting or doing such duties that they were doing.

 

END

 

[Nicole Rothman, ngr1@geneseo.edu, 10/22]

Ishi in Two Worlds

1. 1. the description of the raids on the Indian territories, the first hand accounts were very powerful and descriptive. ““Soon we came in possession of the camp. There was not a bad Indian to be found, but about forty good ones lay scattered about.” (Krober, 1961)

2. The issue of racism/ethnocentrism is an issue, which reoccurs throughout history. In this case it is between the white Americans and the Indian population. As terrible as it is for people to die because of their culture, beliefs or skin color this isn’t the only time it has happened.

3. It’s interesting that ishi was so willing to befriend the anthropologists and the people of San Francisco considering it was the American people who wiped out his tribe. Ishi was excited to share his culture with the anthropologists but I would have thought he would have been more hesitant and cautious.

END

 

[Kaitlyn Northrop, krn3@geneseo.edu, 10/22]

 

1.) I thought it was interesting that Ishi was so excited to become friends with the anthropologists and to live parts of their lives with them even though the white people were the ones who massacred his friends and family.

2.) I thought it was interesting to read about the government and how they were willing to support the hunting of indians and pay anyone who came back with the head of an indian. It was sad to know that the government could actually come up with as much money as they did. This means that they must have killed many indians.

3.) It was interesting to me how after Ishi died, the anthropologists and everyone wished that they had been easier on Ishi while he was alive, and yet they still continued to push him so much while he was alive to get the answers to the questions they wanted.

 

END

 

Ishi in two worlds

Alfred Dilluvio ajd12@geneseo.edu

 

1.) I thought the first few chapters of the book were very interesting because all the things the whites were accusing the native Americans of, were actually being committed by the white settlers. These atrocities included rape and murder.

 

2.) The book reminded me how dangerous it is for you to trust someone. Ishi, a man having nothing in the end, stripped of his family and friends and almost his way of life, trusted those men and women with whom he lived and studied with. It was his trust in them that betrayed his health in the end.

 

3.) The fact that Ishi was so eager to share his history with the anthropologists is startling to me. How could one man want to give his history to those people who may have wiped out his entire family and village. It represents to me a desire to continue a legacy, whether written or oral.

 

[Skye Naslund, sjn1@geneseo.edu 10/22/07]

Ishi in Two Worlds

 

1-The idea that the “white men” saw the Yahi as a violent group because they were defending their homeland is a huge disregard for Yahi culture. The Yahi do not even have specialized fighting instruments and have to rely on hunting gear and axes to protect themselves in times of war.

2-Ishi sticks to his traditions even after he is the only remaining Yahi. This refusal to give into western norms must have been extremely challenging, but to this day, no one knows what Ishi’s true name was because of his cultural refusal to say it.

3-The complete change in environment for Ishi from forest living as hunters and gatherers to living in a museum in San Francisco could not have helped with the adjustment to being the only one of his kind left. It is amazing that Ishi did not commit suicide before his death, and I understand his lack of will to live when he fell ill.

 

Hockings, pp 79-132

 

Type your comments here . . .

 

(1)

[Dave Roberts, dlr4@geneseo.edu, 9-13-07]

 

Hockings, pp 79-132

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1.) "...(Ethnographic film is a) paradox: the more often these films are attacked from the outside or from within (by the actors and spectators or by the producers and researchers), the more they develop and come into their own." (79)

 

2.) Is it just me or does this author keep coming up with the same damn questions and points regarding the shortcoming of ethnographic film over and over and over? I'm over ninety pages into the book and I may as well have read ten. Problems with production, problems with distribution, problems with integrity, problems with cinematography, problems with editing, problems with music, blah blah blah blah

 

3.) Unless a camera is simply set on record as left as such, viewers may not realize the manipulative effect that editing, camera movement, and shot composition can have on one's interpretation of a scene or an event. An editor's process of selectiving certain scenes, camera angles, and the order in which they are shown is an evolving distortion of the actual event that took place.

 

-END-

 

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[Larkin Kimmerer, llk5@geneseo.edu, 9-15]

 

 

Hockings, pp 79-132

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I agree with Dave! All of these essays seem to be saying the same sort of thing--why ethnographic film doesn't work. Once again there appears the debate of "ethnographer-filmmaker" or a team of both, the issue of what type of technology to use, etc. In 1975, this essay concludes with "the only conclusion that can be drawn at this point is that ethnographic film has not even passed through its experimental stages yet...anthropologists...do not yet know how to use it properly." Well, since then, how far has ethnographic film come?

 

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[Dilek Canakci, dc11@geneseo.edu, 9/17]

 

Hockings, pp 79-132

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Once again, Hockings explains how ethnographic film should be captured and the problems that Anthropologists may face by making films. I thought this section was really repetitive and did not succeed in teaching me anything different from previous chapters. We all know that technology is very important and using is appropriately is something every anthropologist must learn before trying to make a film.

 

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[Stephanie Aquilina sma8@geneseo.edu 9/19]

 

Hockings, pp 79-132

    •  

 

1. I thought Jean Rouch brought up a good point about allowing the camera to flow with the pace of life that the people are moving and interacting. The camera as a living extension of the anthropologist is a powerful tool because it presumes a long period of time building relationships, and then provides a comfortable outlet of capturing evidence of that intimacy. In contrast, using a tripod camera creates the “observation post” effect, which films from one point of view and is very mechanical in nature; the hand-held camera is more humanistic, providing a greater sense of fluidity and naturalness (as a “participant camera”) to the process and to the end product.

2. Is there an advantage to relaying what is seen in the field by narrating with educated comments and interpreting the film’s events, or does simply letting the camera run with very little introduction – leading the viewer to draw his own conclusions based on exactly what the filmmaker saw – make for a more accurate cultural portrayal? It seems like an “observational camera” would be a great strategy; what occurred so naturally and spontaneously would make for an interesting discussion, providing a very honest look at human behavior and an open field of insight.

3. Individuals viewing an ethnographic film are quick to accept it as reality because quite often, the filmmaker exerts great effort to “de-emphasize” the filming process itself – an attempt at creating a glare-less window into another culture, in which he or she is supposed to be somewhat omnipresent and omnipotent. For this reason especially, it’s important that people continue to critically evaluate films; practicing this assessment perfects the technique and execution of filming successful ethnographic films. END

 

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[Lanh Nguyen, Ltn2@geneseo.edu, 9/20]

 

 

Hockings, pp 79-132

    •  

1. This quote from page 81, “the camera has shown itself to be a thief of reflections… The native viewers attended the presentation of these brief films… they experienced that ancient fear of fatal contact with one’s double” truly expresses the concept of participant perspective. We see here that after viewing their own images on the screen, the natives were afraid of their own images misinterpreting them to be their evil half.

 

2. Young points out an essential guideline that all ethnographers, anthropologists, and any field worker must consider. Emic (native point of view on their own culture) vs. Etic (outsider’s point of view on another culture). In order for these professions to be credible and unbiased, they must utilize the emic point of view to prevent ethnocentrism or cultural bias.

3. Film and ethnography is still growing today! There’s no organized institution that teaches the correct form of acquiring footages for films—basically trial and error has determined what’s acceptable and what’s not.

 

-END

 

 

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

 

Hockings, pp 79-132

    •  

 

1. It is really interesting to see how negative attention means that the field is doing well, and that negative criticism only encourages more and more people to enter the industry of visual anthropology. One would think it would be the other way around.

 

2. The popularity of unrealistic hollywood films over the documentary style authentic ethnographic films shows how uninterested the general public is with reality. Many people would rather see something crazy and unrealistic. Unfortunately, people are more interested in hollywood adaptations with love stories and warfare than a filming of the cultural ways of certain tribes.

 

3. I have to agree with Hockings no the issue of a camera crew. To truly have a good relationship and understanding of the group of people you are filming, alot of time and energy must be spent learning their language, their surroundings and their ways of life. A large camera crew only interested in thier salaries and on a strict deadline, will do much more harm then good for the film and can only feel overbearing to the people being filmed. It must feel like the paparazzi, constantly watching them as they try and go about their daily life.

 

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{Isobel Connors, icc2@geneseo.edu, 9/23}

 

Hockings, pp 79-132

    •  

 

1. The author stresses the necessity of anthropologists learning to be their own camera-men. Too often, ethnographers rely on a camera crew to capture their observations. Unfortunately, it is impossible to portray one’s own perceptions without direct contact with the camera. Years of study go to waste when calling in a professional to film, as they are not immersed in the culture during the surveillance period. They cannot have the same understanding and respect for a culture without experiencing it for themselves.

2. The section on film subtitles was of particular interest to me. The author writes, “subtitles can be no more than a condensation of what is being said” (92). When watching a subtitled film, I often forget that what I can gain from the film is significantly reduced: I cannot perceive the full picture because I am furiously reading to comprehend the ideas expressed through dialogue. I would be curious to experiment with new techniques to broaden one’s understanding of a film.

3. Another point I found intriguing was the author’s discussion of editing. He postulates that the most effective way to edit a film is by having the editor on site as the film is being produced. “Shared anthropology,” as the author references, presents another necessity when attempting to portray a culture holistically. I think this is a vital part of producing a film that captures a collective perception of culture.

END.

 

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[Skye Naslund, sjn1@geneseo.edu 9-24-07]

 

Hockings, pp 79-132

    •  

 

1-The discussion of the use of a tripod brought to my mind the difference between emic and etic point of view. The reading described the use of a tripod as being from one outside point of view, or as an etic approach. Because there is no movement within or interaction with the culture being filmed it is etic. Emic perspective would be much more easily accomplished using a handheld camera as one can interact and move around within the culture and be not only an observer but a participant as well.

 

2-I really like David MacDougall’s idea that though the “ideal was to try to photograph and record ‘normal’ behavior,” what is considered ‘normal’ is within the context of what is going on at the time. So, while someone is filming a culture, the people of the culture will react how they normally would if someone was filming them, not how they normally would if someone were not filming them or not there.

 

3-There are pros and cons of commentary and subtitles and no one way is the correct way to create an effective ethnographic film. While subtitles can not communicate as much information because few people can read as fast as they can listen, they are often the better choice because commentary, if not properly done can easily become a lecture taking the attention off of the visual images of the film.

 

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[Jennifer Mahoney, jrm30@geneseo.edu, 9/23/07]

 

Hockings, pp 79-132

    •  

 

1. I think one of the most interesting aspects of this story was the way in which people treated Ishi at the time. Its disturbing to learn that less then a century ago a Native American was put on display in a museum, almost as an artifact or piece of art.

2. I also found it upsetting that they brough Ishi back to his homeland even though he didn't want to go. Though this trip was very emotional for Ishi it was very beneficial for the anthropologists involved in terms of the valuable information Ishi was able to provide them with on the trip home. Was gaining this information worth putting Ishi through such an emotional experience?

3. I wonder if Kroebar was a actual friend to Ishi or simply exploiting him. Though Kroebar was too upset to discuss Ishi after his death I have to wonder if he was upset from the loss or if it was simply the guilt he felt from the years of exploiting Ishi and basically working him to death.

 

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(Cameron Mack, cfm6@geneseo.edu, 9/25/07)

 

Hockings, pp 79-132

    •  

 

1. Reading Hockings has made it clear that there is not a set way or formula for making a successful ethnographic film. There are countless choices to made on the part of the creator/director that may all produce an effective film, but there is no clear distinction concerning preference.

2. An interesting point was brought up (from above) about the use of tripods. Hockings discusses the use of these in his chapter, and I also began to think about the etic and emic perspectives. I agree that filming with a tripod sets the mood of a documentary film or at least gives the viewer a feeling of distance from the people being filmed. By using a camera that allows the viewer to move with the people, I believe the film would become more effective. With a tripod you feel an etic perspective, as if you were set apart from the culture and could only see from a distance. Whereas with the handheld camera and emic perspective, the viewer may feel more connected with the experiences of the culture.

3. Hockings makes the point that anthropologists should be their own "camera crews". By this Hockings is clearly pointing out that many times, in ethnographic films, the cameramen are responsible for not being able to correctly film the culture and show them acting in a natural manner. A more correct manner would seem to be making yourself a cameraman, rather than having a crew there to disrupt what little interaction you may be making. I agree with Hockings on this point and would go as far as to say that I think ethnographers should always do their own filming. To me, it seems appropriate to characterize the filming as part of the anthropologist's job or duty.

 

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

 

Hockings, pp 79-132

    •  

 

Its unfortunate that the general public isn't more interested in learning about the world. If ethnographic films could make money based on their authenticity instead of their entertainment value, there would be a lot more credible films in existence and production. I've always thought bringing an entire camera crew into field work for ethnographic filming was ridiculous. We saw how the Navajo thought of the people that made the western movie. They were complete outsiders and the Navajo had no real genuine interest in them because they knew the people were there just to make money off of them.

 

 

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[Heather Warren, hrw1@geneseo.edu, 10/4]

 

Hockings, pp 79-132

 

  1. One of the most interesting questions raised in this article is whether or not we should “put reality on film” or without planning the particular setting by catching everything off guard. This is an interesting question because acting out what is considered real is not the same as catching it in its natural state. Furthermore, there are elements in a real situation that are overlooked when they are reenacted whereas when they are spontaneously filmed, these normally overlooked elements would be caught. However, catching what you want to capture spontaneously, without somehow staging it in some way is incredibly difficult and complicated.
  2. Also, an interesting thing brought up was the fact that while Flaherty was producing his movie on Nanook, he actually showed Nanook sections of the film he was constructing. It made me wonder what it was like for him to see himself doing things that he remembered doing but from a new viewpoint. Was it scary, curious, funny, or just disconcerting?
  3. It is sad that ethnographic films are not very wide spread. They follow most of the rules for commercial cinema except, of course, by less special effects and more truth perhaps. However, since they do not have all the fantastic effects and complex and thrilling plots catered to the public by commercial cinema, they do not make it to the general public and, thus, hybrids which are less accurate are made in order to be able to make enough money to cover the costs of production. If there was some way to get the real ethnographic films out to the public and get a positive response from the public, I believe that it would revolutionize cinema and ethnography and make a positive impact on society, to see other peoples and other practices, and to understand that we are all different but all the same, human.

 

-END-

 

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[Jennifer Ritzenthaler, jkr5@geneseo.edu, 10/4]

 

Hockings pp 79-132

 

1. The more that ethnographic film comes under attack, it seems that more people with to study the things they depict. This is an interesting paradox.

 

2. Rouch seems to be a great admirer of Flaherty’s work, contrary to Ruby, and describes it as a film that other documentaries had to aspire to.

 

3. Rouch is opposed to using film crews and I would have to agree that a film crew should know as much as the ethnologist in order to film a documentary successfully, and that is very unlikely to occur.

END.

 

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

 

Hockings pp 79-132

 

All of these essay seemed to be making the same point, that the general audience of ethnographic film doesn't always realize the affect that film makers have on the portrayal of other cultures. Editing, soundtracks, shot composition, framing, and millions of other special effects are all growing more and more advanced which leads me to believe that ethnographic films will begin to portray less and less accurately as the film itself gets "better" and becomes more entertaining. I agree with the rest of the class that a more realistic documentary could be achieved if anthropologists just hid a camera or two out of sight and let them run for hours at a time, recording the daily lives of the people they are studying. After all, even we act differently in front of a camera, and we've grown up with that kind of technology and find it hard to act natural. END

 

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[Dan McConvey, dpm5@geneseo.edu, 10/6]

 

Hockings pp 79-132

    •  

 

1. I find that this section is somewhat repetitive in its criticisms of ethnographic film. There are flaws in ethnographic film but it does not discredit the method of study on the whole. Regardless of all of the factors (and there are a lot of them) that go into creating an ethnographic film, there is still a very human quality of them. I think it is just important that we watch ethnographic films with these outside factors in mind instead of solely taking all ethnographic films at face value.

2. I think that commentary in a film can be helpful if used correctly, but I also think that this can hinder thinking critically about the film and forming individual thoughts about what is going on. By just using subtitles the viewer might be able to formulate his or her own thoughts about the film that the ethnographer may have missed.

 

3. Film is very intrusive, but I think we must keep in mind that anthropology itself is very intrusive. The culture must adapt and get used to the foreign presence of the anthropologist before they can feel comfortable enough to act with “normal behavior”. A handheld camera seems to be a much more practical means of making this transition to a culture behaving normally. A tripod is more artificial than simply having a handheld camera which eventually will be seen as an extension of the already intrusive anthropologist.

 

-END-

 

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

 

Hockings pp 79-132
I found this reading very dry. I agree with the author where he talked about ethnographic film as being a paradox. The quote: “…the more often these films are attacked from the outside or from within (by actors and spectators or by the producers and researchers) the more they develop and come into their own” tells us a lot about ethnographic film. It is, indeed, never perfect because everyone has different views on different films, thus it’s a growing process, arising various opinions. A growing process where trail and error basically determines what is accepted by the majority of the society. What I found to be interesting was the part how Hockings portrayed the camera as showing itself to be a thief of reflections and how negative criticism actually encouraged more people to enter the industry of visual anthropology. An example of this is seen where Hockings talked about how ever since young anthropologist- filmmakers declared films on rituals and traditional life as being out of date, more people have filmed on these areas than ever before. -END-
(17)

[Anne Kim, ak13@geneseo.edu, 10/10]

 

Hockings, pp 79-132

1. Colin Young makes an interesting point about filming in general. He says, “When you interview someone they always tell you what they want you to know about them.” This statement piqued my interest in that, it got me thinking: when is any film completely objective? Even when interviewing witnesses, nothing is really completely accurate. By taking this into account, the audience can begin to watch films more critically.

2. Young further mentions how the television affects viewers also. Despite the fact of propaganda and subliminal messages, the fact that television shows edit, record, and separate materials makes a big difference. The commercial that they pair the show with also makes a difference. For instance, the programmers are not going to put a happy and funny commercial in the middle of a horror movie because this would ruin the mood and lose viewers. Therefore what Young is saying that the context in which the film is being shown also matters.

3. Therefore, what Young is basically saying is that there are two ways the filmmaker can “go wrong”. He can either misrepresent the entire film or he can edit the film inaccurately, which would also misrepresent the film. I thought that this summarization was very clever. However, it seems to me that if this is the case, can any film be objective?

END
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[Laurie Sadofsky, las22@geneseo.edu, 10/12]

Hockings “Some Recent Approaches to Anthropological Film”

1. Jean Rouch argues that the more films are criticized, the more developed they become. Like many of the other authors in the book she believes an ethnographer-filmmaker will create a more accurate and anthropological film than a film crew with an ethnographer on the sidelines.

2. Colin Young that anthropologists have tried to remove subjectivity from their field notes with the addition of ethnographic film. He states that the best films are those which do not try to sell the audience a point or opinion but rather show an event and let them figure out the rest.

3. David MacDougall writes that editing filmed events make them seem more like snapshots. According to him, the more comfortable those filmed feel with the ethnographer and the camera, the more realistic that which is filmed will be.

END

 

 

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

 

 

Hockings pp 79-132: “Some Recent Approaches to Anthropological Film”

 

 

1. Politics: The text mentions that, “From the beginning, the camera has showed itself to be a theif of reflections (81).” Lumiere’s men were afraid of seeing their own double. How ironic is it that all these years later, with cameras so small and inconspicuous, we are becoming increasingly afraid of our invasion of privacy.

 

 

2. Environment: Impressive that Flaherty did everything himself, he didn’t rely on anyone else really in using the technology used to film Nanook. Reminds me of the TV show Survivorman, where the person has to film all of the shows and shots himself.

 

 

3. Social Change: Perhaps with modern technology and cameras so small we could create films where the subjects didn’t know where the camera was or if it was on, creating a much more realistic film. Of course violating the privacy of the subjects would be in question…

 

 

-END-

 

 

[Kaitlyn Northrop, krn3@geneseo.edu, 9/13]
 
Hockings- “Some Recent Approaches to Anthropological Film”
 
1.) The film shot by amateurs is thought to be less valuable because it is not made in a professional sense. Although this may be true, the footage can still be used for research purposes and for the sense that it still captures the native people in their home land.
2.) Flaherty worked alone. I find it interesting that Nanook was so intriguing based on the face that Flaherty did work alone. He was able to be the best of all the worlds, and that is why Nanook was such an interesting film to the viewers.
3.) I thought it was interesting that many of the film producers like to use the natives for their film crew instead of an actual film crew. I like that they engage the people into the film. It seems like they would be more interested in the whole film if they could be a part of making it.
 
-END-
 

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

Hockings Pgs. 79-132

The role of the camera and the mobility of it plays a major part in how ethnography is viewed and what is possible to shoot. The idea of a mobile camera unit makes sense when filming a people. Action is in constant motion, therefore the camera should be able to move and relocate at any given time. Tripods in this case will not do and the should mounted system plays best.

Commentary is important in many cases to explain what is happening in an ethnographic film. However the filmmaker must be careful to keep the commentary objective and not stray into any personal opinions and or selective ideals.

The line “the camera tends to lie but the audience tends to believe” is extremely important to remember when shooting film. One must remember when filming that people are naive, they will believe whatever you tell them or show them.

 

END

 

[Nicole Rothman, ngr1@geneseo.edu, 10/22]

1. Popularity of Hollywood films over documentary/ethnographic type films shows how a majority of the general public isn’t interested in current events and expanding their knowledge of other cultures. People tend to be unintentionally ethnocentric.

2. The idea of anthropologists being their own camera crew is stressed in this section of the book. A crew costs money and require years of training. The crew also must respect and understand the culture they are filming.

3. Issue of the use of a tripod was interesting; it’s interesting to think that the use of a tripod would be like the etic perspective where as a hand held would be like the emic perspective. The hand held would allow for closer footage and allow the cameraman to be among the people.

END

 

Alfred Dilluvio ajd12@geneseo.edu 10/22

 

This section was particularly interesting to me. It kind of influenced me to think that people in America are so oblivious to things, that sometimes they don't pay attention to anything except that which is visually stimulating. They will often dismiss the significance of something if it doesnt contain action and craziness.

 

I think it might benefit filmakers to avoid professional film crews and traditional methods of filming. It is these methods which cause people to think about anthropological ethnographies in the sense that they are action or drama films. Just filming an individual telling a story is the most effective way of doing things enthnographic film wise. The individual should have the right to influence the presentation of their history.

 

I have to use the same line that Adam did. "The camera tends to lie but the audience tends to believe" is an amazing quote because of its obvious implications. The enthnographer might accidentally put something in a movie which isnt accurate. But that wont stop people from seeing it and understanding it to be that way. Sometimes this is very bad for the people the film may highlight.

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