Seminars 2016

Visual Anthropology and Cultural Heritage by Frode Storaas

The workshop will discuss various ways of utilizing video camera in documentation and communication of material and immaterial cultural heritage.
Frode Storaas will screen clips from his films, excerpts that demonstrate people’s concern on cultural heritage. A question raised will be on how the camera used for documentation may “freeze” one version of cultural expression and thus give a false representation of how cultural heritage can be part of people’s life today. Anthropological method of research and filming deals with people of today and the workshop will point to the possibilities and the limitations of anthropological filmmaking in relation to a wide range of cultural expressions that can be labeled as heritage.

Workshop Kalamata -Martin Gruber-

Participatory or collaborative approaches have become popular amongst ethnographic and documentary filmmakers. Since the authority of representation is under debate, collaboration with research subjects seems an effective way for anthropologists to not only continue making films about the people they study, but to possibly make them even better. Participation and more particular participatory filmmaking has also become an important asset in diverse fields, such as development cooperation, town planning, youth work and to academic research. Today it is not only fashionable to apply participatory methods, but it has become almost impossible to implement or acquire funding for any major project without including those who are believed to be most affected. The rational behind it is to put those (often marginalised) people in the position to have a greater influence on the representations about them – or even to make their own representations. However, while this is an extremely interesting and timely development, it is also a tricky issue. Often such activities are implemented to authenticate the respective projects or to legitimize decisions made by others, rather than to shift decision-making power and practical implementation. They become a sort of pseudo-participation. It is thus important to take a close look at the underlying processes and the resulting products. How and why is participatory or collaborative filmmaking implemented? What can it achieve? Which impact does it have on the respective project and its different contributors and stakeholders? These questions are the guiding principle of this workshop. Combining methods of anthropological filmmaking with participatory approaches originating in development cooperation, I developed an approach I called collaborative ethnographic filmmaking. Unlike other approaches, which either take the research participants’ priorities into account but remain largely authored by the anthropologist/filmmaker or which try to enable them to make their own films, participatory ethnographic filmmaking aims at producing films in collaboration between anthropologists (or other interested persons) and representatives of groups they want to study or targeting through their work. Sharing aspects of practical filmmaking, such as directing and operating the camera, is a crucial element of this methodology. It not only changes the research participants’ feeling of ownership regarding the resulting films but also shifts the relationship within the production team, resulting in new and unexpected forms of collaborative knowledge. The workshop will introduce and discuss my work at the intersection of research, development and film.