The Relationship Between Visual Anthropology and Documentary Film

Anthropology (the study of cross-cultural human sociality) has only been made possible with the expansion of transport and communication links that allowed the first Anthropologists to research and study other cultures. As a result of this, Anthropology is a relatively young subject, being first taught in the late eighteenth century. The subject developed during a time of industrial and technological expansion that some Anthropologists embraced. Some of the early ethnographers such as Evans-Pritchard used photography to illustrate and enrich their work. Since the cost and access to film has become more available an increasing number of Anthropologists have begun to utilise film in their research which has created an off shoot of Visual Anthropology.

The use of film in social research raises ethical and theoretical issues such as the power relations between the filmmaker and the participants, more specifically if the camera is an instrument of surveillance. Does the filmmaker have the right to videotape indigenous communities? Issues of misrepresentation of certain communities could unintentionally cause harm. There are problems of translating anthropological abstract concepts, such as kinship onto film. Many Anthropologists dismiss the use of film in their work as it raises too many epistemological problems for them. However, these concerns can be reduced if ethnographers follow certain guidelines when producing films. Anthropologists can use a framework that some documentary filmmakers follow.

Documentary filmmakers such as Spectacle Productions ascribe to ethical guidelines that aim to respect the subjects in the film. This means to be responsive and respectful of what people want and do not want filmed as well as working collaboratively from a grassroots stance point to give the participants a voice as well as representing the film’s subject’s in a way they want to be presented.

The issue of power relations with filmmaker and participants can be solved through participatory and collaborative film making. Filmmaker and participants make decisions together on what they shoot, the access allowed and the content filmed. Another approach is to give the participants being filmed the cameras which is a form of community video. Many indigenous communities, especially those in the Amazon have utilised film for land rights activism or to promote their cultures to a wider audience.

Misrepresentation as a potential problem can be solved again with participation from the communities by having a pre-screening of the film with a representative with the community being filmed. If this is not possible due to distances or other obstacles another way is to speak with the participants during the filming explaining and demonstrating transparently what your aim of the film is.

 On a theoretical note, while to film the abstract notion of ‘culture’ is beyond difficult one can film the material and visual world that can convey aspects of ‘culture’. Filming events such as religious rites, celebrations and every day life help to build a picture that conveys lived-in cultural experience.

The idea of creating a totally unbiased and objective ethnographic film is problematic as it will always be framed by the filmmakers prejudices, as with any ethnographic write-up. One cannot escape this fact, therefore the best way forward is to realise these limitations and to go forward to create the film.

The benefits of including ethnographic films can significantly add depth to social research. Anthropology can use film to showcase elements of culture hat are sometimes overlooked, for example nuances in speech and movements that are not always written about in ethnographic monographs. Film can be utilised in a variety of ways: as reference material for write-ups, examples or illustrations of particular concepts, as well as bringing ethnographic data together in a tangible and understandable format that can be understood by a wider audience.

Anthropologists and social researchers wishing to make ethnographic films can look to Documentary Film as a model to answer some ethical and aesthetic problems that the film format raises.

Spectacle homepage
Spectacle Documentaries on Facebook
SpectacleMedia on Twitter

For more information on Spectacle’s training courses for Documentary Film Making

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • Current
  • email
  • Google Buzz
  • Identi.ca

Silwood Video Group – Bank Holiday Workshop

Spectacle’s latest inter-generational film workshop took place at the Silverlock Center on bank holiday Monday and saw children and adults from the surrounding communities come together to learn about and discuss the history and social issues of the local area. Through workshops they were enabled to film one another in an interview style regarding their feelings concerning the estate and how it has changed within their life-times.

Children interviewing a parent at the workshop

Thanks to all who attended for their interest, support and contribution to what was an insightful and rewarding day.

You can support our work by ordering Silwood related books, maps, dvds and prints from Spectacle’s Shop.

Click Silwood Video Group for more blogs
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.
See our Silwood Video Group project pages for more information and videos.

Spectacle homepage
Befriend Spectacle.Docs on Facebook
Follow SpectacleMedia on Twitter

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • Current
  • email
  • Google Buzz
  • Identi.ca

Silwood Video Group-free event Monday 30th May

Silwood Estate: Video, Old photos and Maps

The Corbett’s Lane junction is said to have the first regular signal box in the world. The viaduct can be seen at the end of the road.

Can you help date this and other local photos at Ron Coombes site Pictures of Family Localities

Nearby Corbett’s passage running along the rail viaduct today

Join us for a day of video workshops, screenings, old photos and maps of the area over the past 150 years. All welcome. Free.

Where:

Silverlock Centre
Warndon Road
SE16 2SB

When: Monday 30th May

Time: 12pm-4pm

In co-operation with: Spectacle; The Wakefield and Tetley Trust; The Capital Community Foundation.

Click Silwood Video Group for more blogs
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.
See our Silwood Video Group project pages for more information and videos.

Spectacle homepage
Befriend Spectacle.Docs on Facebook
Follow SpectacleMedia on Twitter

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • Current
  • email
  • Google Buzz
  • Identi.ca

Silwood Video Group Update

Silwood Digital Training 28-02-09

On Monday we had a successful afternoon filming location shots around the Silwood estate including Regeneration Road and Oldfield Grove. We also filmed shots of the incinerator and the work site near by.

We are coming to the end of this series of inter-generational workshops, so why not get involved and make the most of the last workshops! We will be holding a public screening shortly to show what has been filmed during this series.

Click Silwood Video Group for more blogs
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.
See our Silwood Video Group project pages for more information and videos.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • Current
  • email
  • Google Buzz
  • Identi.ca

Silwood Video Group: Workshop update

Silwood Digital Training 28-02-09

We will be on the Silwood estate today at the Silverlock Centre from 2.00 till 4.00 to film some location shots. There will be opportunities to use the camera equipment and all are welcome to join!

If you have any questions feel free to contact us. Our number is 02072236677.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • Current
  • email
  • Google Buzz
  • Identi.ca

SVG: Workshop Update

5514908986_15aaca5299_o

The Silwood Video Group workshops continued this week, with two days on the estate. On Monday, due to good weather, we were able to move around on the estate doing location shots and photography, as well as engaging curious residents and talking to them about our activities. Later in the afternoon, we organised an interview shoot with a long-term resident. We also held our weekly screening and workshops at the Silverlock Centre on Tuesday from 6pm-8pm. We discussed old maps of the Silwood and Rotherhithe area brought along by one of the residents, which were photographed for documentation, and held camera and sound operating practice workshops.

Click Silwood Video Group for more blogs
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.
See our Silwood Video Group project pages for more information and videos.

Spectacle homepage
Befriend Spectacle.Docs on Facebook
Follow SpectacleMedia on Twitter

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • Current
  • email
  • Google Buzz
  • Identi.ca

SVG: Progress Update

Silwood Video Group 18-02-09

The weekly Silwood Video Group sessions have been continuing down on the estate and at the Silverlock Centre. We have had some very successful shoots and interviews with local residents, who have helped to document life on the estate by explaining their memories of their time there, how the community has changed, and what advice they would give to younger/ newer residents. The project has so far been well-received by those living on and around the estate, and there is a keen interest being shown in discovering how the camera works, operating sound equipment, interviewing others and listening to each others histories.

As ever, the group would like to encourage new members to join – all are welcome to take part!

Tuesdays, 6.30pm – 8pm

Click Silwood Video Group for more blogs
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.
See our Silwood Video Group project pages for more information and videos.

Spectacle homepage
Befriend Spectacle.Docs on Facebook
Follow SpectacleMedia on Twitter

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • Current
  • email
  • Google Buzz
  • Identi.ca

Silwood Video Group – New Workshops

Spectacle will be starting a new series of inter-generational workshops on the Silwood Estate in South-East London every Tuesday from 1st of February. Documenting the lives’ of old and young residents alike, it is an attempt at capturing oral histories and in the same process teaching people ow to use camera equipment to record their own stories. We will be filming on location from 2pm-3pm on the Estate, and from 3pm til 6pm, we will be based at the Silverlock Centre on Warndon Street (opposite Tissington Court) for a more formal workshop.

All welcome!

Click Silwood Video Group for more blogs
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.
See our Silwood Video Group project pages for more information and videos.

Spectacle homepage
Befriend Spectacle.Docs on Facebook
Follow SpectacleMedia on Twitter

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • Current
  • email
  • Google Buzz
  • Identi.ca

The Good. The Bad. And Section 106.

Sil Workshop 28-07-05

Spectacle, having established the Silwood Video Group, have been an active presence on the Silwood Estate since 2001, and in nearly 10 years of voluntary film-workshops and attendance at Residents’ Meetings, we have seen the landscape of this slice of South-East London change, and change as a result of regeneration.

Since 2005 at the Residents’ Forum Meetings, which are now held quarterly, the residents have asked to see the business plans for development and to have access to details of Section 106, which was declared a ‘non-public document’ by the London & Quadrant NIT Manager on the Silwood. The statement was later retracted, but the Section 106 document, to date, has not been made available to residents.

Tower Homes, the commercial wing of London & Quadrant, won the planning permission rights to the land in the Silwood area, on which they intended to build luxury apartments. By law, this makes them accountable to Section 106 Agreement of the Town and Country Planning Act (1990), which states that if development is agreed upon, for example, Lewisham Council awarding planning permission to Tower Homes, then the new landowners must provide resources that are of benefit to the community that will be affected by the development. In the case of the Silwood, London & Quadrant was entrusted with the responsibility of overseeing the re-provision of community facilities, play areas/ parks, and youth centres on the Estate, which were demolished as a result of the regeneration process. The Lewington Centre was then built as a replacement for the former community centre and the Cyber Centre under Section 106.

Residents are currently being asked to pay relatively steep rates in order to use their new Centre, but the bone of contention lies in the fact that, according to the ‘Regeneration Project Initiation Document’, freely available from Lewisham Council, London & Quadrant allocated a fund of £2 million in order to meet their Section 106 obligations. On top of this, despite the claim of London & Quadrant representatives at Residents’ Meetings on the Silwood that these rates are essential to their business plan and the long-term running of the Lewington Centre, their business plan for 2009 shows that they have made a profit in the region of £120, 000. So why do they seem so unwilling to invest in fully rebuilding the local infrastructure?

Click Silwood Video Group for more blogs
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.
See our Silwood Video Group project pages for more information and videos.

Spectacle homepage
Befriend Spectacle.Docs on Facebook
Follow SpectacleMedia on Twitter

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • Current
  • email
  • Google Buzz
  • Identi.ca

REFUSING TO ACCEPT ONE’S PLACE, Tate Britain, May 7th

‘Refusing to Accept One’s Place’ is a discussion event held by This Is Not a Gateway exploring urban poverty and social exclusion.

Among the speakers will be Mark Saunders who will be talking on Poverty as a Media Event and Olympic Social Cleansing, based on Spectacle’s ongoing Poverty and the Media and London Olympics 2012 projects.

RESISTANCE & SPATIAL REFORMERS:

REFUSING TO ACCEPT ONE’S PLACE

FRIDAY 07 MAY 2010, 6:30PM

TATE BRITAIN {Turner’s Italian Odyessy T7}

* The salon is free but registration is necessary: salonsATthisisnotagateway.net *

As part of European Alternative’s Transeuropa Festival and Tate Britain’s Late at Tate event East is East, This Is Not A Gateway are organising a salon ‘Resistance and Spatial Reformers: Refusing To Accept One’s Place’.

The EA Festival is tackling the European Commission‘s 2010 theme ‘Poverty & Social Exclusion’- their specific interest is exploring the return of slums to European cities. Tate Britain‘s Cross Cultural Contemporary Art Team are looking at contested spaces and notions of London’s East End for their event ‘East is East’. TINAG’s interest in both these areas is the potential to explore the psycho/social idea of ‘refusing to accept one’s place’.

The salon will explore how notions of poverty are constructed, the return of slums in Europe, understandings of democracy, the links between land ownership and social exclusion and the psycho/social condition of Refusing To Accept One’s Place that may have motivated social and spatial reformers – past & present.

Speakers:

.       Ruhana Ali, Community Organising Foundation

.       David Rosenberg, teacher and guide of radical history walks in East London

.       Andrea Luka Zimmerman & Lasse Johansson, Fugitive Images

.       Kevin Cahill, investigative journalist and author of ‘Who Own’s Britain’

.       Oliver Ressler, artist and filmmaker

.       Andrea Gibbons, Right to the City, JustSpace and PM Press.

.       Mark Saunders, Spectacle Documentaries

.       Paul Trevor, photographer ‘Eastender Archive’

* Salons are free and there are always beer and bagels *

Information on previous salons (press releases and post-salon essays) can be found here.

This Is Not A Gateway hold a year long series of salon discussions focused on urban citizenship and cross-cultural exchanges with speakers from a range of fields and backgrounds. The salons are integral to developing a participant-led programme – a testing ground to see what questions and work are being produced in and on cities, and what formats might be possible.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • Current
  • email
  • Google Buzz
  • Identi.ca