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Films ethnographiques en Grèce : impressions filmiques de l'alterité

Ethnographic Films in Greece: Impressions of Otherness

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Publié le vendredi 25 février 2011 par Karim Hammou

Résumé

The majority of anthropologists in Greece, like elsewhere, seems reluctant to use visual means in their fieldwork. Obviously they prefer writing texts in order to communicate their work (even if they have collected certain visual footages in the field) instead of filming and assembling their visual data. At the same time, although ethnographic or fiction films are often used in the teaching of folklore, anthropology and sociology, university teachers get rarely involved themselves in their production.

Annonce

The majority of anthropologists in Greece, like elsewhere, seems reluctant to use visual means in their fieldwork. Obviously they prefer writing texts in order to communicate their work (even if they have collected certain visual footages in the field) instead of filming and assembling their visual data. At the same time, although ethnographic or fiction films are often used in the teaching of folklore, anthropology and sociology, university teachers get rarely involved themselves in their production. Could this reluctance be interpreted as a simple lack of technical skill, given that digital cameras have become increasingly cheap and easy to handle? Or is it rather due to the concern of Greek anthropology to distance itself from salvage ethnography and descriptive folklore studies and to claim for itself the status of a theoretical discipline?  Or may it be linked to the fact that many anthropologists see the camera as an unfriendly and distant means, more appropriate for artistic or journalistic than for academic purposes? Or is it because they think that film offers only limited possibilities for analysis with respect to text and guides the spectator to more streamlined meanings?
This conference, however, does not intend to return to such long-debated and maybe already outdated dilemmas (texts or images, science or art), but to explore instead ethnographic film as a particular methodological strategy, its relationship with folklore studies and social anthropology in contemporary Greece and to document the available ethnographic audio-visual data (footage and films) that concerns the Greek context. 

UNIVERSITY OF THESSALY
SCHOOL OF HUMANITIES
FACULTY OF HISTORY, ARCHEOLOGY AND SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY
Argonafton & Philellinon, 38221, Volos
Tel: 2421074794-5, Fax: 2421074781 

Ethnographic Films in Greece: Filmic Impressions of Alterity 

6 and 7 May 2011, Faculty of History Archaeology and Social Anthropology

Department of Social Anthropology, University of Thessaly, Volos 

Call for Submissions  

The debate on ethnographic representation that began with Writing Culture (Clifford and Marcus, 1986) has led, among others, to a search for new forms of the anthropological reading and analysis of cultural data that go beyond the restrictive limits of textuality. In this context, the potential of ethnographic film, in the past often considered as marginal to the anthropological project, was reappreciated as an alternative, nonlinear and synchronic way of “writing culture” and as a means of cultural critique (Fischer, 1998). Thus, a new anthropological field emerged - visual anthropology - focusing on visual representation and the visual communication of ethnographic data. It claimed its identity mainly through postgraduate programmes, seminars and festivals. In recent years audiovisual data and their elaborated form - ethnographic films - have moved away from authoritarian forms of narration like voice over commentary and dubbing. For some these new forms of narration would contribute to the development of a “multivocal” ethnography. At the same time, however, this expectation coexisted with the claim that observational cinema should aim at documenting social life in a realistic way. Thus, realism and the presumption that truth can be represented by the exact correspondence between images and the real-world (like words and real-world in the written text) are considered paradoxically as the main advantage of film. Whether the camera can record and communicate the non-visual aspects of social life and in which ways and forms still remains a matter of debate.

The majority of anthropologists in Greece, like elsewhere, seems reluctant to use visual means in their fieldwork. As a result, the production of ethnographic films that have been shot in the field remains extremely limited. Thus, even though in recent years documentary films often find interesting venues for projection and distribution, anthropologists rarely use the camera in a systematic way for collecting or provoking data. Obviously they prefer writing texts in order to communicate their work (even if they have collected certain visual footages in the field) instead of filming and assembling their visual data. At the same time, although ethnographic or fiction films are often used in the teaching of folklore, anthropology and sociology, university teachers get rarely involved themselves in their production.

Could this reluctance be interpreted as a simple lack of technical skill, given that digital cameras have become increasingly cheap and easy to handle? Or is it rather due to the concern of Greek anthropology to distance itself from salvage ethnography and descriptive folklore studies and to claim for itself the status of a theoretical discipline?  Or may it be linked to the fact that many anthropologists see the camera as an unfriendly and distant means, more appropriate for artistic or journalistic than for academic purposes? Or is it because they think that film offers only limited possibilities for analysis with respect to text and guides the spectator to more streamlined meanings?

This conference, however, does not intend to return to such long-debated and maybe already outdated dilemmas (texts or images, science or art), but to explore instead ethnographic film as a particular methodological strategy, its relationship with folklore studies and social anthropology in contemporary Greece and to document the available ethnographic audio-visual data (footage and films) that concerns the Greek context. The conference welcomes oral presentations and films.

Proposals may concern, the following non exhaustive list of themes: 

1.  Teaching with film:

Which are the purposes of the projection and a discussion of an ethnographic film during a class? Is it about making known to the audience a non-familiar and inaccessible cultural reality? Is this a way for presenting an ‘exotic’ habit, behaviour or ritual? Is it used to undermine the self-evident assumptions and the stereotypes of students? To illustrate a theory with an ethnographic example? Or just to entertain students and to ‘fill’ the class? 

2. Filming (in) the field:

Which are the conceptualizations of the camera that blocked or favored its use since the 70’s till today? Why have folklorists been filming more than anthropologists? When and why do researchers get still or moving pictures? What do they leave out? When and under which circumstances is audiovisual footage turned into a film? Where and when have these films been projected and how have they been received by the audience? Given that ethnographic films in general reveal the process of filming itself and question (sometimes involuntarily and other times voluntarily) the relationship between the film-maker and his or her subjects, which styles of filming and subjects can be observed in specific films of a particular period? 

3.  Participating as an academic advisor in a documentary film:

What happens when the anthropologist stands next to the cameraman, the film editor or the film director in order to comment and interpret? What is the room given to him/her to influence the viewpoint of the movie? In which ways has such a co-operation been built? Which are the interventions finally made on his/her comments? Does the councilling of a researcher become the necessary condition for a particular film to claim scientific status and eventually funding?  

Keynote Speakers: Giorgos Aikaterinidis (Κ.Ε.Ε.Λ. Centre of Greek Folklore Studies), Peter Loizos (L.S.E.) Collette Piault (C.N.R.S). 

The conference welcomes proposals for 20 min papers as well as films in digital form (DVD). Abstracts should not exceed 300-350 words and indicate the particular theme of the conference they are related to.  

Proposals should be emailed till March 10th 2011 to: 

Organizing Committee:  

Department of Social Anthropology,
Faculty of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology
University of Thessaly,Volos, Greece

Lieux

  • Argonafton & Filellinon (University of Thessaly, Departement of History, Archeology and Social Anthropology)
    Volos, Grèce

Dates

  • jeudi 10 mars 2011

Mots-clés

  • Grèce contemporaine, anthropologie visuelle, films ethnographiques

Contacts

  • Athena Peglidou
    courriel : peglidou [at] hotmail [dot] com

Source de l'information

  • Athena Peglidou
    courriel : peglidou [at] hotmail [dot] com

Pour citer cette annonce

« Films ethnographiques en Grèce : impressions filmiques de l'alterité », Appel à contribution, Calenda, Publié le vendredi 25 février 2011, http://calenda.org/203507