overview of methods in visual anthropology; development of visual ethnography as method and theory
original pagination retained for citation purposes
@ copyright El Guindi - do not reproduce without permission
From Review in American Anthropologist
V. C. de Munk, AA, 102:1, 2000
[original page numbering preserved for citation purposes][page 459]
FADWA EL GUINDI
From Pictorializing to
Visual anthropology traces its roots to the advent of modem photographic (and sound) technology invented in Europe and the United States; its founders were Alfred Cort Haddon, Baldwin Spencer, Franz Boas, Marcel Griaule, Gregory Bateson, and Margaret Mead, among others. The term "visual anthropology," however, was coined only after Word War II and became associated with the idea of using cameras to make records about culture (Worth 1980:7). In Europe, visual anthropologists have focused almost exclusively on ethnographic film. In the United States, all visual formats and media developed for teaching, recording, research, and analysis are considered part of visual anthropology.
This is an issue-, method-, and theory-oriented chapter. What has come to be known as the humanistic orientation is not posed here in a polarity of humanistic/ scientific contrasts. Instead, an overview of the various methods in visual anthropology and a critique of the diverse anthropological approaches to the visual medium includes humanistic and other orientations. Also addressed here is the non-Western critique of the Western tradition of visual anthropology, which brings out pertinent issues of cross-cultural representationality.
Visual anthropology embraces many interests, methods, and specializations, including communication kinesics (Birdwhistell 1952, 1970), proxemics (Hall 1959, 1966), semiotics (Worth 1969, 1972, 1980, 1981a, 1981b), the study of gestures (Kendon and Ferber 1973), and choreometrics (Lomax 1975, 1978 [Film]; Lomax
et al. 1969). Synchronous sound was developed in the 1960s, but even before that, archaeologists, primatologists, and ethnologists used photographic (still and moving) technologies for gathering data, for cross-checking facts, and for building records (see Blackman 1986, 1992; Caldarola 1987; Edwards 1992; Faris 1992; Scherer 1992). Video technology has made filming easy and accessible, leading to further innovations. Today, multimedia technology simultaneously and interactively combine various media and formats, allowing for maximum flexibility in application and for methodological and analytic rigor.
In 1964 a conference was held on filmmaking in anthropology. Other than that, there were virtually no programs, publications, or regular meetings on ethnographic film or visual anthropology. In subsequent years, the Program in Ethnographic Film (PIEF) was established, and by 1973 it had become the Society for the Anthropology of Visual Communication (SAVICOM). This society functioned under the wing of the American Anthropological Association. The founding group behind this effort, namely Jay Ruby along with a number of anthropologists and researchers, also set up the National Anthropological Film Center (directed by E. Richard Sorenson) at the Smithsonian Institution. The PIEF Newsletter, begun by Jay Ruby and Carroll Williams in 1969, continued as the Society for the Anthropology of Visual Communication (SAVICOM) Newsletter. This was later incorporated into the Anthropology Newsletter of the AAA. In 1974, SAVICOM began a more formal publication series, edited by Sol Worth.
Ethnographic films have been reviewed in the American Anthropologist since 1965. Since 1966, ethnographic film sessions have been a regular feature of the AAA annual meetings. In 1969, Jay Ruby began the annual Conference on Visual Anthropology at Temple University in Philadelphia.
In 1984, the Society for Visual Anthropology (SVA) was formed as a constituent section of the American Anthropological Association. The SVA produced a regular newsletter-now Visual Anthropology Review-out of which a select group of articles were recently published (Taylor 1994). SVA's scope is as follows:
[T]he use of images for the description, analysis, communication and interpretation of human (and sometimes nonhuman) behavior-kinesics, proxemics and related forms of body motion communication (e.g., gesture, emotion, dance, sign language) as well as visual aspects of culture, including architecture and material artifacts. It also includes the use of image and auditory media, including still photography, film, video and noncamera generated images, in the recording of ethnographic, archeological and other anthropological genres-how aspects of culture can be pictorially a source of ethnographic data, expanding our horizons beyond the reach of memory culture. It is the study of how indigenous, professional; and amateur forms of pictorial/auditory materials are grounded in personal, social, cultural, and ideological contexts.
On the tenth anniversary of the annual SVA Film/Video Festival (El Guindi and Williams 1995:xv-xvi), the SVA published a list of all the films and videos given
awards during the preceding years, along with a detailed scholarly commendation (Blakely and Williams 1995; Williams et al. 1995). That year, the AAA published another listing of films (Heider and Hermer 1995).
In the first-and still classic-collection of articles on visual anthropology, Hockings (1975) lamented that "of the various English handbooks now available on research methodology, only one devotes as much space as two pages (out of a thousand) to some applications of cinematography in anthropology" (p. 477).
That was then. In the rest of this chapter, I present an extended historical/ methodological overview of visual anthropology. It's worth restating the earlier call: "It is not sufficient to give lectures at the universities and use films to illustrate those lectures. We have much to teach mankind about itself; let us do so through all the visual media available to us" (Hockings 1975:480).
Film: Technology and Ethnography
Motion film technology was invented in Europe and America shortly before the turn of the century, decades after the invention of still photography. At first, the new technology was crude, bulky, and awkward. It was dangerous to work with and cumbersome to transport. As Rouch (1975) put it:
One almost needed to be crazy to try using (as did some ethnographers) a tool as forbidding as the camera. When we see today the first clumsy attempts to use it correctly in Marcel Griaule's Au pays des Dogons (In the Land of the Dogon) (Griaule 1935 [film]) and Sous le masque noir (Beneath the black mask) (Griaule 1938 [film]), we can understand their discouragement with the results of their efforts. Their admirable documentation was put through the filmmaking machine. There was wild, insensitive editing, oriental music, commentary in the style of a sportscast .... it is this sort of travesty that Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson were able to avoid when they produced their series Character Formation in Different Cultures (Mead and Bateson 1930s-1950s [film]) at about the same time (1936-1938). [The films in the series include: Bathing Babies (Mead and Bateson 1954 [filmed 1930s]); Childhood Rivalry in Bali and New Guinea (Mead and Bateson 1952); and First Days in the Life of a New Guinea Baby (Mead 1952, approx.)] They were successful because they had the financial aid of American universities which understood before others did that it is absurd to try to mix research and business. (p. 88)
Cameras were fixed on tripods, and film was suitable only for shooting in broad daylight or with artificial light. Yet, like our human ancestors who pictorialized incessantly despite the awkwardness and difficulties, some anthropologists immediately saw the innovative potential of the new technology.
Felix-Louis Regnault, a physician specializing in pathological anatomy, became interested in anthropology around 1888-the year Jules-Etienne Marey, the inventor of "chronophotography" demonstrated his new camera to the French Academie des
Sciences using celluloid roll film. Some consider Marey the first to make an ethnographic film.
Six months before the Lumiere brothers made their first public projection of cinematograph films (Lumiere 1895), Regnault filmed a Wolof woman making pots at the Exposition Ethnographique de I'Afrique Occidentale. "The film showed the Wolof method of making pottery, using a shallow base which is turned with one hand while the clay is shaped with the other" (de Brigard 1975:15).
Regnault claimed that he was the first to observe this method which, he said, illustrated the transition from pottery made without any wheel to pottery made on the horizontal wheel, as in ancient Egypt, India, and Greece. The movie camera was used as if someone were producing multiple still images rather than a single moving sequence. Tuareg (1983:68) describes the images as "actually closer to serial photography than to film, taken with the method of `chronophotography,' which had been developed by J. E. Marey around 1888."
Regnault carried out a cross-cultural, comparative study of body movement some 40 years before Marcel Mauss wrote his famous essay on Techniques du corps (Rouch 1975:85). Using time-sequence photography, Regnault filmed the "ways of walking, squatting, climbing" (1896a, 1896b, 1897). In addition to sequences of a Wolof woman from Senegal making a claypot, he shot a Wolof woman thrashing millet, three Muslims performing a salaam, and four Madagascans passing the camera while carrying the photographer on a palanquin (Marks 1995:339; and see de Brigard 1971). In 1900, Regnault and his colleague, anthropologist Azoulay, were the first to use Edison sound-record cylinders to record sound (see Azoulay 1900a, 1900b). Regnault (1923:681) described his records as "physiologie ethnique compare" (comparative ethnic physiology). He wrote about and published his experiment, including line drawings taken from the film (Lajard and Regnault 1895). This was the earliest known attempt to use film for controlled comparison of human behavior and movement.
Sol Worth found that motion pictures antedated Regnault. "The first set of photographs called motion pictures was made by Eadweard Muybridge in 1877, as scientific evidence of a very serious kind. He invented a process of showing things in motion in order to settle a bet for Governor Leland Stanford of California about whether horses had all four feet off the ground when they ran at a gallop" (Worth 1980:3; see also Muybridge 1887).2
In 1898, the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to the Torres Straits, led by former zoologist Alfred Cort Haddon, set out to do salvage ethnography on Torres Straits culture, studying physical anthropology, psychology, material culture, social organization, and religion (see Banks 1996). The team was equipped with a variety of recording tools, from W.H.R. Rivers' genealogical method, to photography, to wax-cylinder sound recording, to the Lumiere motion camera. Haddon collected over 7,000 feet of film (chiefly of ceremonies) and made a number of wax
cylinders. The ethnographic footage that resulted is the earliest known to have been made in the field'.
Franz Boas used still photography in the field beginning in 1894. In 1930, when he was 70, he took a motion picture camera and wax cylinder sound-recording machine to the Northwest Coast. It was his last field trip to the Kwakiutl, whom he had studied for more than 40 years. He was accompanied by Yulia Averkieva, a Russian anthropologist. Ruby (1983:27) notes that Boas "wrote nothing about film as a scientific tool or even about his views of the role of the cinema in our society, [yet he] undoubtedly knew that some anthropologists such as Regnault or Haddon in the 1897 Torres Straits expedition had taken movie cameras into the field." Ruby (p. 27) wondered why "Boas never reacted formally to Robert Flaherty's film, Nanook of the North- a popular film about people he had studied [and which] must have been a topic of conversation [in Boas's circle]."
During that trip, Boas shot 16-mm film of dances, games, manufacturing; songs, music, and other aspects of life. The task was completed in 1973 when Bill Holm edited the sequences into a two-reel film with the assistance of several Kwakiutl informants (Boas 1973 [filmed 1930]). Morris (1994:56-66) analyzes the "film" in detail, referring to it as "extraordinary collage," "a fragmented totality," "a roughhewn montage." She concludes that "taken as a whole, the footage provides a powerful demonstration of the degree to which photographic and filmic imagery arrests social process, stripping objects from their systems of meaning in the moment of their inscription" (p. 60). To Ruby, it was evident that the footage was shot primarily for research, not for an edited production, and that Boas's theory of culture (see Stocking 1974) generated his approach to imaging-events and bits of behavior out of normal contexts for purposes of recording and analysis. Though Boas neither completed the analysis of the visual data nor published the results, Ruby (1983:27, 29) suggests that Boas be regarded as a father figure in visual anthropology for making picture-taking a normal part of the anthropologist's field experience.
MacDougall (1975) observes that perhaps "the very invention of the cinema was in part a response to the desire to observe the physical behavior of men and animals." He remarks that Regnault and Baldwin Spencer quickly went beyond the popular, commercial interests of Lumiere, making essentially observational film records of technology and ritual in traditional societies. MacDougall proposed that "the notion of the synchronous-sound ethnographic film was born at the moment Baldwin Spencer decided to take both an Edison cylinder recorder and a Warwick camera to Central Australia in 1901" (p. 111).
Yet, when highly portable synchronous-sound cameras were finally developed around 1960, few ethnographic filmmakers jumped to use them. (Two exceptions were Jean Rouch in France and John Marshall in the United States.) In contrast, Loizos (1993) points out that still cameras and tape recorders were accepted rapidly
and virtually without question by most anthropologists. Toward the end of his life, Regnault felt that his urgings to use film for ethnography had not been effective
(de Brigard 1975:16).
In France, Jean Rouch,4 an ethnographic and avant-garde filmmaker and ethnologist with an international reputation, received his initial training in engineering. Rouch crossed freely between shooting styles with the camera, which he himself held, and between the conventions of cinema and anthropology (see also Stoller 1992).5 In 1960, Rouch and Edgar Morin (sociologist-cinéast) made a path-breaking documentary, Chronique d' un été (1961 [film]), that questioned the line drawn between documentary and fiction film.
Changes in camera and sound-recorder technology from 1960 on enabled simultaneous recording of image and speech. Also, 16-mm color film became accessible and faster film enabled filming in poor light (inside houses, huts, evening rituals, etc.). These changes made possible more intimacy, more flexibility, more spontaneity, and more shooting-style innovations. Rouch demonstrated the profound impact of the changes in both his participatory camera and catalytic shooting style. De Brigard (1975) states that Rouch was one of a few who pioneered a change in technology and shooting-synchronous sound filming combined with the hand-held camera-in the 1960s. Loizos (1993) observes that "Rouch in interviews sometimes makes it sound as if he discovered the use of the hand-held camera [but that] combat cameramen in World War 11 had been hand-holding their 16-mm cameras" (p. 65).
Loizos identifies four qualities that describe Rouch's contributions: documentation, collaboration, interrogation, and improvisation and fantasy. For Rouch, the "camera is not confined to the role of a passive recording instrument," as in observational cinema, but becomes "rather an active agent of investigation and the camera user can become an interrogator of the world" (1993:46).
Loizos entered academic anthropology after a career in documentary filmmaking for television. He was involved in producing 15 films on topics that included nursing and dying, mental disabilities, perceptual psychology, physics, and technological innovation. Loizos (1993:1) also worked on "two political propaganda films" and "three ethnographic documentaries." In ethnography, Loizos worked in a locale chosen for personal reasons: It was his father's village-a developing, postpeasant society in rural Cyprus. He rejects any formalizing in ethnography and film, referring to Rouch's films as the earliest challenge to the "innocence of early documentation filming and its claims to objectivity and truth" (p. 2). Recently, Loizos presented what is primarily his film-by-film reading of segments from his choice of some ethnographic films that appeared over three decades, ending in 1985.
Heider appreciates the methodological dimension in Rouch's editing. In Les maîtres fous (Rouch 1954 [film]), Heider (1983) says that Rouch used montage to show the referent of a symbol:
[W)hen the egg is smashed on the head of the possessed man playing the governor general, Rouch cuts, interrupting the possession ceremony of the Hauka, to a shot of the real governor-general of the colony in full regalia to show us the white ostrich plume streaming down his hat and tells us, visually as well as verbally, that the egg is meant to symbolize the feather (this cross-cutting has a parallel in a written analysis of a myth). (p. 5)
Heider notes that Rouch used flashbacks in the final sequence to juxtapose the men as they appear in their everyday contexts with their exalted forms in their possession states. In other words, his film was an analyzed ethnographic presentation and had value for its development of the visual medium as ethnography, not only as data.
In Germany, the Institut fur den Wissenschaftlichen Film was reorganized after World War 11. German anthropologists resumed filming in Melanesia, Africa, and Europe, emphasizing scientific purity (Husmann 1983; Koloss 1983). Their program produced "Rules for Film Documentation in Ethnology and Folklore" in 1959. The rules said that filmmaking must be done by persons with sound anthropological training or supervision. Further, an exact log must be kept, recording authentic events. Finally, the filming must be done without using dramatic camera angles or movement and must be edited for representativeness.
In 1952, the first systematic anthropological film archive, a scientific encyclopedia in film form, was established at Gottingen, Germany (Wolf 1972 [film]). Konrad Lorenz and others assembled and arranged several thousand films on anthropological and biological subjects. Each film consisted of a single "thematic unit," such as dance, work, or ritual, grouped according to different cultures (see Wolf 1967; Tuareg 1983) and arranged to facilitate comparisons of behavior across cultures (Wolf 1972). The majority are silent. Most also have a printed document with background and technical information. The document is in the language of its author (German, French, or English- the official languages of the Encyclopedia).
Work on an ethnohistorical atlas of the Soviet Union began in the 1960s. By mid-1970, the classical methods of collecting ethnographic materials had been complemented with ethnographic filming. A number of Soviet research institutions have used ethnographic filming. Filming began to be used for scientific purposes at the State Ethnographical Museum of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1961 (Peterson 1975:185).
In 1970, a Japanese archive was established at Tokyo. In 1972, Japanese anthropologists, TV journalists, and artists formed the Japanese Committee of Film on Man, in collaboration with Jean Rouch. Its aim was to support the production of ethnographic films in collaboration with the National Institute of Ethnological Studies (see Ushiyama 1975; Hockings and Omori 1988; Ushijima 1988).
In 1974, the National Anthropological Film Center was started at the Smithsonian (see Sorenson 1975:463-476). This led to the Human Studies Film Archives, which houses a large collection of film and visual material (see Wintle and Homiak 1995).
The situation was different in non-Western countries. Egypt (see al-Bindari 1981; Abdullah 1984) and India (see Sahay 1983) had a strong, early cinematic tradition of realistic fiction and social documentary, but no tradition of ethnographic films developed. They were viewed as products of racist powers. In their view, colonial filmers were filming the colonized, the East is orientalized by the West (Said 1978; Amin 1989), and anthropology's colonial roots were being revisited through visual anthropology.
Adolfo Colombres situates the ethnographic film genre, like anthropology itself, within colonial encounters and dominating relationships. To him, Malinowski and Flaherty were romantics who, in the 1920s, escaped civilization by going to remote lands and introduced methods of recording, thus sidestepping the political context of a colonial situation. Colombres points out that Flaherty admitted that he wasn't interested in the demise of the people he was filming-a demise brought about by white domination. Rather, Flaherty's goal was to demonstrate "their originality and majesty before whites annihilated not only their identity, but the people themselves" (Colombres 1985a:12, 1985b). In other words, Flaherty's sentimental nostalgic view of culture would freeze a reconstructed pre-Contact "noble savagery."
Marks's analysis of the 1895 footage by Regnault supports the claim of the colonial orientation of anthropological film. First, the film depicted tribal peoples, hence fixing its subject matter. Second, the last of four sequences, in which the Madagascans carry the photographer on the palanquin, evokes the image of servile native bearers carrying the dominant European photographer (Marks 1995:339).
In 1946, Jean Rouch, inspired by Robert Flaherty, Dgiza Vertov, and Jean Vigo and a second-hand camera, set out to film reality. Colombres observes that when Rouch filmed that year in Niger, he was a member of the French colonial society, launching a spiritual adventure inside colonially dominated French West Africa. Rouch avoided politics, however, and the political context. In Moi, un noir (1957 [film]), about immigrants from Niger to the Ivory Coast, Rouch gives voice, for the first time, to the colonized so that they could express their view of the world. But Colombres asks (1985a:17) to whom Rouch designated the responsibility of the African consciousness? Was it to an immigrant Nigerian from British West Africa who danced well, as was expected of an African black? The film confirms the racist stereotypes of the colonizer and is a cinema of the exotic, an important component of colonialism.
Others echo this perspective. In India,6 Singh (1992b) criticizes the anthropology about India. He said it overstresses divisions and tribalism, particularly during the colonial period, when ethnography was concerned primarily with tribes. This legacy continued. Colonial ethnography, Singh writes (1992a:9), "created the categories of caste and tribe-simplifying a very complex structure (of) India as a feeling, as a vision, as a dream shared by all of us." Singh proposes research and filming that would show an understanding of the nature of Indian pluralism as a "melting pot, a mosaic, a fishing net into which have been drawn peoples and races . . .
(reflecting) the unity of the people, shaped by geography and environment, by history and culture, that developed as communities and regions have interacted over time. This process is called unity in diversity, some call it diversity in unity" (pp. 8-10).
Singh's alternative approach to the study of India consists of a comprehensive study in which "community," as identified and defined by the people themselves, is the unit of study. The project would include visual documentation by films (1992a:11, 12). Roy and Jhala (1992:28) see a role for visual anthropology in India in that it "could initiate discourse across the illiteracy barrier and provide a platform from which the cultures of India could gain both `voice' and `representation."' They regard "technological feasibility, political desirability, international example, and the promise of international cooperation as incentives for undertaking visual anthropology in India" (p. 21). Singh (1992a:14) supports development of a visual anthropology that respects premises of cultural integrity and finds great value in scientific visual documentation for influencing consciousness and intervention strategies during crises in a way that fiction film can't.
This critical ideological perspective from Latin America, Egypt, India, and elsewhere hasn't led to a methodological framework for ethnographic film that deals with the premises underlying the critique. Filmmakers there concentrated on fiction and, in a somewhat limited way, adopted the documentary form in three genres - journalistic, propaganda, and folkloric (the latter presented as ethnographic).
Reverse visual anthropology is, perhaps, one attempt to subvert domination. Three decades after Rouch began filming in Africa, Manthia Diawara, head of the African Studies Program at New York University and commentator on West African film, experimented with the idea of "visual anthropology in reverse." Diawara filmed Rouch in Paris to see if "shared anthropology," a phrase coined by Rouch, could shed light on cross-cultural relations between the powerful and the disempowered (see Diawara 1989). In a review of Diawara's (1995) film, Michael Fischer observes that Rouch had proposed a journey through the sculptures of Paris as his way of presenting the "public Rouch." Diawara came to realize that "He was taking me on a tour of my own French education and showing me how much of it I still carry." And Diawara was made to recite in front of one sculpture the childhood verse La Fontaine's fable of Monsieur Fox and Monsieur Crow. Fischer asks (1997: 142): "Is this an unsuccessful effort by the filmmaker, a political blockage in Rouch, or an example of the wily Rouch's upstaging, inverting the power relation between filmmaker and film subject, the very thing that Diawara has been warned about and warns us about both early and late in the film?"7
Loizos (21-23) describes how in the early 1950s John Marshall went on several expeditions to the Kalahari desert and became involved with Ju/hoasi (!Kung Bushmen or San). It was on these trips that Marshall recorded the different aspects of their lives on mute, 16-mm film, which resulted in more than 250 hours of footage. "This material was subsequently logged, partially annotated, and edited to
produce complex ethnographic films such as The Hunters (Marshall 1957), Bitter Melons (Marshall 1971), N/umTchai: The Ceremonial Dance of the !Kung Bushmen (Marshall 1966), and a number of short films such as A Curing Ceremony (Marshall 1969a), which focused on a specific event, type of relationship, or activity." (21). Loizos argues that this early footage was filmed without synchronic sound but "now appear to have been carefully edited and 'post-synchronised'" (21) perhaps as a way to overcome the muteness as it were and "to give a certain lived fullness to the images" (21).
But, as Loizos points out, the later ones of 1957 and 1958, such as A Joking Relationship (Marshall 1962), The Meat Fight (Marshall 1974), and An Argument about a Marriage (Marshall 1969b), were shot with synchronized sound and were at the time “unrivaled in the intimacy and vividness with which it conveyed hunter-gatherer lives, including quarrels, and the dramatic intensity of the rituals needed to effect curing. The ability of Marshall and his co-workers to give his subjects, who were also by this time either friends or people he knew very well, vividness and authenticity as skilled, three-dimensional individuals was at the time unrivaled” (1993:21–22; see Ruby 1993). These film episodes were shown in an introductory anthropology course at Harvard to illustrate concepts such as avoidance and reciprocity.
[the above two paragraphs include corrections omitted inadvertently by the publisher]
In the early 1960s, Timothy Asch, a young photographer with anthropological training, helped Marshall edit some of the Ju/hoasi films. Several innovations came out of this teamwork. One innovation was the emphasis on "sequence filming." Sequence, Loizos explains, is where Marshall and Asch broke down the "story" into something more like a bare, descriptive case-history, as in The Meat Fight (Marshall 1974), or where the on-screen event was a single continuous one, with minor excisions, but no transcending synthesis (Loizos 1993:23). Asch describes his technique as "continuous filming of an interaction" (Asch and Asch 1988:171). Marshall and de Brigard write that a sequence can be thought of as the verifiable film record of a small event. Sequence filming replaces the ordinary process of shooting and editing a thematic film, or overview, with an attempt to report the events themselves in as much detail and for as long as possible. "Film can follow small events closely, letting them take their own time and produce their own content. The result is a sequence notable for the lack of conceptual and contextual framework which other forms of film attempt to supply. Most filmmakers would be unwilling to call a sequence a film" (Marshall and de Brigard 1975:133, 134).
Asch was also instrumental in putting subtitles on some of Marshall's Ju/hoasi sequence films. A number of these very short films were released. They had qualities of simplicity and self-containment - no background or introduction- but were, in many cases, supported by detailed study guides.
Asch then sought to enter into a collaborative relationship with an anthropologist," aiming for a major filming project. He wanted to follow up Marshall's
sequences idea, but instead of breaking footage into sequences at the editing table, he wanted to shoot sequences in the field, with synchronous sound to capture social interactions at length and without significant breaks.
Asch was contacted by anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon, who had studied the Yanomamo of Venezuela and had done some filming himself. In 1968 and 1971, Asch and Chagnon went on major ethnographic and filming expeditions to the Yanomamo and made some 37 ethnographic films. In these films, Asch applied several techniques that he and Marshall had developed together. For example, Asch and Chagnon used stills as an orientation device to get the audience familiar with the persons, relationships, and events that would be seen later as live action-a technique developed on some of the Ju/hoasi films.
One of the more powerful films was Magical Death (Chagnon 1970 [film]), in which some shamans brought their powers to bear in a psychic attack on an enemy village. Another, A Father Washes His Children (Asch and Chagnon 1974 [film]), shows the same man as Magical Death. In Magical Death, the man was a shaman conducting a campaign of roaring aggression against an enemy village; in the later film, he was as a gentle man handling children peacefully in the stream. Asch offered this as a beginning of "his own view" of the culture, the "other side" he called it. Loizos considers this film a valuable complement to the image of a battle ready Yanomamo warrior. Collier (1988) sees all the Yanomamo films as humanizing the Yanomamo people, a quality not revealed in the written ethnography.
The Ax Fight (Asch and Chagnon 1971 [film]) is a good example of "shooting a sequence in the field." It's an innovative film showing a "live" field situation-a spontaneous fight that broke out in the Yanomamo village and the spontaneous reaction of the ethnographer. In the film, both the ethnographer and the filmmaker try to understand and explain as they observe the fight and film it. The film's value lies in the editorial decision to include footage and sound usually inaccessible and to replay this footage to reveal the ethnographer's understanding to the viewer. In written ethnography and most films, we're rarely, if ever, given a record of an ethnographer's struggle to make sense of ambiguous events. The Ax Fight is both ethnographic and about the ethnographic process. Ruby (1975:109) articulated the significance of such revelations: "A filmic ethnographic work must include a scientific justification for the multitude of decisions that one makes the process of producing a film." The scientific justification for The Ax Fight's specific construction is evident. What's lacking is a methodological paradigm that provides a sound ethnographic basis for determining and selecting sequences.9
The effort to provide information alongside the visual for research and teaching purposes motivated early innovations. Sorenson (1967:448) had proposed editing sequences in chronological order in the original or in a copy, then printing from a copy or from a duplicate of the chronological edit. This last copy, marked with titles
and subtitles, immediately receives the magnetic track in the margin for recording information
useful for scientific reasons. All these operations are done on regular film.
In the past few years, there have been dramatic, technological changes combining media, formats, and bodies of data for enhancing information. The video format has presented new areas of application and facilitated filming with sound. And with digitization, nonlinear editing, hypermedia, multimedia, web sites, CD-Rom technology, and other innovative technology, new directions have become a reality (Seaman and Williams 1992, 1993).
Computer-based technology has also made it feasible to make visual imagery central to formal analysis , not as illustration, but as the medium for developing formal models with interactive, computer-generated, graphic modeling of, for example, kinship terminology structure (Read and Behrens 1990). Gary Seaman and Peter Biella have been working with Chagnon on the Yanomamo materials (Biella et al. 1997), combining different kinds of data in one format using hypermedia techniques and CD-ROM technology (Biella 1993a, 1993b). Biella (1996) says: "Since the invention of interatice media technology 20 years ago, students of ethnographic film have awaited fulfillment of its promise for education and scholarship. Laser discs' nonlinear access to films, along with keyboard and computer control over that access, permits dramatic, new intellectual possibilities for film and video in anthropology" (p.595).
Research Film and Photography
General anthropologists are familiar with ethnography on film because they're using it increasingly in teaching, particularly in its more accessible video format. Less is known of using film and photography as data in research, referred to as research film. This usage is ambiguous - confounding purpose, technique, format, and a phase in the research cycle. But it does stress the scientific quality; visual tools are used to gather, discover, or elicit data for analysis. A research film is one in which cinematography is applied to the systematic search for new scientific knowledge (Michaelis 1955:1; and see Wolf 1961: 16-20). It's different in format and use from films that are constructed to reveal an anthropologist's understanding of a cultural, commonly referred to as ethnographic film. Research film, which Sorensen also calls "record footage," is meant to provide a credible source of information for continued analysis and rework (1976:248). From this perspective, the visual medium is considered a relatively exact tool that ensures data accuracy and enhances analysis objectivity.
Sorensen made still and moving records of events in day-today-life in New Guinea. In this photographic ethnography on Fore childhood, Sorensen developed the concept of the research film as a method that turns exposed footage into
research documents after filming. He systematized the use of film and created a "research film theory and methodology." The method deals primarily with assembling and annotating film footage taken by anyone for any purpose in order to maximize its scientific potential. Sorenson used still cameras to capture data on items, locations, positions, and context, and he used motion pictures to gather information on patterns and subtleties of process and development in behavior and social interaction (1976:147). For Sorenson, visual records facilitated original and validative inquiry in several ways: discovery, preservation for restudy, the level of detail, and as primary data. He likened the visual record to a fossil-it preserves primary data, permits reexamination from new points of view and perspectives, and facilitates discovery beyond earlier knowledge (p. 146). It's a permanent scientific resource (Sorenson and Jablonko 1975:151).
Archaeologists began to use film around 1900. They found the camera quicker than making drawings of the artifacts they uncovered and more accurate as a record of life and artifact. Worth suggests that it was from the use to which archaeologists put photographs that cultural anthropology developed its first, and still important, conceptual paradigm about using pictures as records of such cultural artifacts as arrowheads, potsherds, houses, persons, dances, ceremonies, or any performed behaviors. (See Struever  for a discussion on the role of film in archaeology.) Collier (1975) notes that in digs, the still camera provides archaeologists with a record of an invaluable mapping process that corresponds with phases in their exploration. He says that John Paddock of the University of the Americas in Mexico City regularly surveyed ongoing excavations so that the exact relationships of structure and stratification could be carefully recorded each day before descending to lower levels.
According to Collier and Collier (1986), aerial photography for mapping surveying is one of the most accepted uses of the camera. Interpretation of aerial photographs has been pushed further than any other application because mappers seized photography as a useful device (1986:29-44). Vogt and Collier used photographic aerial reconnaissance to collect sociocultural data in the Harvard University Chiapas Project, a major community study (Vogt 1974).
Regnault was the first to film cultural practice with scientific intent. In 1931, he surveyed the status of film in anthropology, formulated a typology of film according to its use (entertainment, education, or research), and asserted that the importance of film in scientific research had been forgotten (Regnault 1931:306, cited in de Brigard 1975:20).'° By the 1920s, however, there was reasonable use of photography and film. Some films focused on a single cultural activity, a few dealt with cross-cultural comparison. Museums and universities began to foster the use of film in anthropological teaching and for public education." By the mid-1920s, anthropological film was accessible as a teaching tool. By the mid-1930s, a minor shift had occurred in anthropology toward accepting the visual. Although not fully integral to research and anthropological methodology,
anthropologists like Melville Herskovits and Marcel Griaule used film to illustrate ethnography.
Films were not yet being cited in publications or referenced as films for discussion in scholarly works," but this would soon change, as film became an instrument for the systematic microanalysis of human behavior, an instrument for recording and discovery (Marshall and de Brigard 1975:133). Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson pioneered systematic film use over an extended period of research and across cultures. In Bali and New Guinea from 1936-1938, they shot 22,000 feet of 16-mm film and 25,000 stills. Their goal was to describe the "ethos" of a people using visual data. Technical advances and the 16-mm format, which Eastman Kodak had developed in 1923 expressly for the school market, facilitated using film technology in the field.
Bateson, an experienced photographer, took pictures, while Mead took copious field notes of events. "Mead had developed a technique of writing in a notebook while hardly looking at what she was doing, so that she could at the same time focus on what was going on in the field in order to select and direct Bateson's next shot" (Chaplin 1994). They had no sound-recording equipment. Pictures were valuable because, as Mead (1963:174) put it, there was neither vocabulary nor conceptualized methods of observation for recording certain types of nonverbal behavior. Observation had to precede codification. Pictures and notes were carefully cross-referenced. After building a large corpus of photographed data, Bateson and Mead used photos in systematic comparison-those taken before a specific hypothesis was formulated with those made afterward. After 1938, they spent another six months in New Guinea, collecting comparative data among the Iatmul.
Bateson and Mead viewed 25,000 stills in original sequence and selected and arranged 759 of them in 100 plates, thematically juxtaposing related details without "violating the context and integrity of any one event" (Mead 1972:235). They had made the "first saturated photographic research in another culture" (Collier and Collier 1986:12; see also Jacknis 1988a) and published their results (Bateson and Mead 1942). Both continued to use photography in their joint and complementary research. Mead's research focused on child development (Mead and MacGregor 1951) using photographs taken by Bateson and analyzed according to Gesell categories (Gesell 1945). Bateson's research focus was nonverbal communication (Bateson 1963).
The footage they shot was edited either chronologically (Mead and Bateson 1991 [ca. 1952] [film]) or according to contrasting behaviors (Mead and Bateson 1952 [film]). Several films, released after World War II, resulted from this field project (Mead and Bateson 1930s-1950s [film]).
Margaret Mead was critical of anthropology's passivity and resistance to using pictures in field research. She (1975) criticized ethnographic inquiry that came to "depend on words, and words and words," anthropology for "becoming a science
of words," and anthropologists who relied on words and "have been very unwilling to let their pupils use the new tools" (p. 5).
Collier (1988:74), too, recognized that photography's potential contribution to anthropology had not been exploited. He found it ironic that anthropologists doubted the photographic fact (for its scientific value), whereas photography had already been widely used in the hard sciences (where data control is more of an issue). Collier and Collier (1986:10) note that "early ethnographers were enthusiastic photographers, for the camera gathered the descriptive details sought for in the material inventory phase of anthropology . . . [whereas] modern anthropologists generally use photographs strictly as illustrations" (emphasis in the original). Physical anthropologists and archeologists seem to have trusted the camera to record scientific observations. Yet, with still photography, chronophotography, moving pictures, and later video, visual documentation of cultural differences has long been part of the anthropological research process from Muybridge to Regnault, from Haddon to Spencer to Mooney (see Jacknis 1990) to Boas (see Jacknis 1984, 1988b, 1992), developing alongside anthropology as a discipline.
Ruby (1983:27, 29) sheds light on Boas's unused footage-the film he shot in 1930 among the Kwakiutl. Boas's interest in body movements and dance brought together several lifelong themes in his work-the relationship between race and culture to behavior and the study of expressive and aesthetic forms of culture. He espoused a theory of rhythm that encompassed dance, music, song, and many other aspects of culture, and it's possible that he made the footage and sound recordings to study rhythm. Benedict confirms this in a letter to Mead (Mead 1959:495-496; and see Mead 1977). Boas may have assumed that he could synchronously record sound and image, but he didn't have sufficient technical knowledge to realize that it was impossible to do synchronous sound filming in the field in 1930.
Visual representation is increasingly important in cross-cultural studies of human communication, which is as much visual as oral (see Goodwin 1994). Semiotic analysis and evocative techniques have joined the long-established use of film by anthropologists for both purposes: as a note-taking tool for events that are too complex, too rapid, or too small to be grasped with the naked eye or recorded in writing, and for gathering data for synchronic and diachronic comparison.
Ray Birdwhistell, who adapted methods of descriptive linguistics to the study of culture, used film to map the kinesics of American English using a written notation system (1952). His discovery of subtle, visible components in communication from film records showed that film was indispensable in detailed analyses of human interaction (1964 [film]). This was further supported by Hall's demonstration of cultural differences in nonverbal human interaction.
Alan Lomax has been directing a cross-cultural study of expressive style, including song, dance, and speech, since 1961. The Choreometrics Project (Lomax et al. 1969) is concerned with movement style, and Lomax has collected film of
work and dance from nearly two hundred cultures. His study of patterns of human movement in work and dance, and their relation to social and economic evolution, would not have been possible without a growing body of anthropological films containing retrievable data that were not necessarily sought or recognized by the makers of the films. Most footage was filmed by others, but Lomax and his team selected and coded them using a descriptive system based on the Laban Effort-Shape theory (Laban 1926). Ratings were computerized for multifactor analysis. The aim of the project has been to develop an evolutionary taxonomy of culture (Lomax 1968, 1973).
With recent advances in videotape techniques, anthropologists are increasingly able to provide sophisticated analyses of expressive aspects of verbal communication. For example, they have used videotapes to examine silent cultural cues in social interactions, including distance between interactants, body posture, facial expressions, hums and murmurs, head movements, eye movements, hand gestures, etc., to determine messages being communicated in the interaction. These are so different from one culture to another that without videotape, a verbally fluent but culturally naive speaker could conclude that the audience is agreeing with the points being made, when, in fact, it is politely disagreeing or remaining neutral.
I accidentally discovered the significance of nonverbal behavior and its value as a cultural cue for synching 16-mm sound and picture. During the synching session and rough assembly of a film now in progress, I was unable to locate the synch sound to match a visual segment. After repeatedly running the film and sound back and forth and just before giving up, I noted a subtle, face-hand gesture by the woman in the image. I knew that this gesture only occurs when accompanied by specific words. Using this verbal/nonverbal linkage as a cue, I recalled hearing those words earlier on the tape, so I rolled the tape again. After locating the cue words, I synched words with cue gesture (rather than lip movement), and successfully completed the segment.
Crawford (1992:66-82; Crawford and Turton 1992) sees no need to analyze raw film. He argues that unedited film footage is already so coded that an audience can decode the images as is and derive meaning. What kind of meaning will be derived when raw footage is viewed without analysis? What interpretation will be assigned to "mute" facts that aren't contextualized by ethnographic background and knowledge? In his criticism of the antiexegetic stance of observational filming, Loizos (1993) supports this position when he says that unfamiliar ritual in an unfamiliar culture cannot possibly yield its meaning-culture translating itself, as it were. Sorenson (1976:247) stresses the importance of method: "Method is crucial-in order for visual records of changing ways of life to be a valid scholarly resource, they need to be shaped by scientific methodological considerations that govern the investigation of nonrecurring phenomena. Interpretability and verifiability must be stressed. Credibility is key."
Native Knowledge Through Visual Methods
The relationship with, and the role of, the people of observed cultures is a fundamental dimension in the perspective and method of anthropology. As informants, native culture-bearers, collaborators, native ethnographers, filmers, or filmed, their views of culture are essential aspects of what anthropologists seek. Collier (1967:49) wrote: "[M]ethodologically, the only way we can use the full record of the camera is through the projective interpretation by the native."
Margaret Mead (1956) described how anthropologists were always looking for better recording methods. Still photography was the first technical aid given full use, "partly because of cost" and simplicity and "partly because our methods of analysis were still so rudimentary." Photographs were intended for recording, while preserving "the complexity of the original material" and "simultaneity in which the memory of the investigator is at a minimum during the analysis" (pp. 79-80).
Much information is gained by analyzing photographs directly. But John Collier (1967), photographing since the 1930s, noted that pictures can be used to gain other knowledge beyond that gained from direct analysis-an understanding of culture informed by indigenous interpretations. And Prost (1975:302) saw "nothing new in using film to elicit responses from informants: Darwin did it more than a century ago." The combination of advancing visual technology and the basic anthropological premise of seeking the local view of reality process led to experimentation with methodological techniques and innovative approaches to data gathering. One important technique is the photo/film elicitation technique.
Visual elicitation as technique can be traced to psychological research going back to 1909 and became common in psychiatry during World War 11 (see Prados 1951; de Brigard 1975). In 1925, Mead introduced photo elicitation in anthropology using still photos to elicit responses from Samoan children. The manifold applications of photography in anthropology steadily increased.
Drawing on linguistics and ethnoscience, the elicitation technique sought to discover how members of a society experience, label, and structure the world in which they live (see Sturtevant 1964). In early studies using still photography, researchers used photographs to discover or illustrate analytical concepts. Collier (1975:213) distinguished between projective and elicitive uses. He wrote that "There really are no other ways to use photographic records scientifically, except to use photographs as stimuli in interviewing. The projective use offers a rich recovery of data, but so do old maps and ink blots. In terms of direct research, projective use of photographs is a secondary research potential."
Although Collier (1967) and Bateson and Mead (1942) did their own photography, they suggested that detailed visual studies can be applied to substantive areas (see also Mead and MacGregor 1951). Both studies were concerned with capturing events and behaviors in natural settings and explaining the attitudes and behaviors of their subjects - by elicitation in Collier's case and by research analysis for Mead and Bateson. Collier thought that elicitation could uncover informants' conceptions of the entire community and its social organization.
In my Zapotec work, I used still photography (El Guindi 1986b) for data cross-checking and elicitation "to stimulate a number of lines of enquiry that have hitherto been unexplored" (Olien 1968:837). Following a regular, in-depth interview with Martin Hernandez, an informant I relied on in the area of myth, I showed him slides I had taken of ritual events and recorded his comments and reactions to them. I had no fixed notion as to what to expect nor what specific questions to ask him. Most comments involved recognition and identification of persons and places, some of which led to discussions of kinship and social networks. Only some data were useful and they were more confirmatory than informative. There were exceptions-two noteworthy observations made toward the latter part of the slide show.
In one instance, as I was showing a slide of the cemetery with a focus on the cemetery shrine, the informant pointed to two stones placed on the shrine and volunteered valuable information about the "sacredness" of the two stones (which, as I had observed frequently, were regularly used by the village caretakers to pound dirt on the grave after burial). The other instance concerned a slide of the church altar decorated elaborately for the Christmas ceremonies. In an enthusiastic burst, Martin pointed to the altar saying: "Ha, there is the little house already raised." This comment led to an extended discussion revealing rich data on various aspects of Christmas- and Easter-related rituals and myth.
Most elicited data were in the hidden, ideational realm, but made observable through the slide-elicitation technique. My use of still photography was important because it showed that: (1) It can be productive in cross-checking with the people about their culture; and (2) It was an additional means of eliciting data by combining visual aids with interviews (El Guindi i986b:21, 43).
The elicitation technique has developed in formal terms and out of what was in the 1960s known as the "new ethnography." The interview with photo/film procedure was adapted from field linguistics (Krebs 1975:285). Advances in visual documentation brought linguistics closer to visual anthropology. To build a corpus of conceptual categories, the film elicitation technique used such interview procedures as "nontranslational linguistics" (tell me about); "interactive elicitation" (what is this? who made it? what is this part called?); and the "word-to-text technique" (to elicit labels and concepts within informant's competence, and then to use these to talk about the subject) (Samarin 1967:83). Ghurbal (El
Guindi 1995c [film] is one of the few films consisting entirely of an anthropologist's spontaneous interviews seeking and eliciting original information on camera in the field.
Film Elicitation Followed Photo Elicitation
Important research was done using film in studies based on careful observation, as in kinesics and choreometrics, sometimes using film projected frame-by-frame (Lomax 1968; Birdwhistell 1970). Krebs (1975) used both photo and film for elicitation during her fieldwork in Bangkok on the ancient form of Thai dance drama called Khon (1970-73). But her focus was more on film elicitation, using it with native informants "to elicit conceptual categories of culture from members of the filmed society . . . [and to] . . . discover how they conceptualize and categorize the phenomena of the world in which they live" (Krebs 1975:283). Krebs showed an informant a carefully shot and edited film of some event or happening within the culture, and, through questioning, learned how he or she structured that "slice of reality" shown on the screen. Krebs used a composite workprint of a complete Khon dance-drama outdoor performance with an optical sound track along the edge and frame-by-frame numbering to facilitate recording informants' responses as the basis for film elicitation interviews. Drawing on experimentation and categorization from the Choreometrics Project of Columbia University (Lomax 1978 [film]), Krebs empirically established the existence of gestures and the rnultivocality of the same gestures in different contexts.
Prost (1975:302) summarizes the uses of film in Krebs's project: (1) a memory device-informants recalled their intentions as they observed something they did; (2) a standardization tool-people commented on the same filmed slice of reality; and (3) a vehicle for experimental control-informants responded to a film where one or another variable has been controlled, either a doctored film or a simulated portrayal. With this technique, researchers can explore the full variety of meanings among their informants.
Feedback as Method
Rouch wants to know: "For whom have you produced this film, and why?" (1975:95). He said, "[M]y prime audience is the other person, the one I am filming" (p. 99). It's an indispensable step to present "the first rushes from beginning to end to the people who were filmed whose participation is essential" (p. 98). Rouch's notion of participation refers to the camera's role: "The anthropologist has at his disposal the only tool-the participant camera-which can provide him with the extraordinary opportunity to communicate with the group under study," what some of us call "shared anthropology" (p. 98).
Feedback, to Rouch, is an "extraordinary technique [which] turned those filmed into participants with the film acting as a stimulant for mutual understanding and dignity" (1975:100, emphasis added). In the early 1960s, Rouch and Morin filmed their actors' comments and exclamations as those actors saw themselves on screen in Jaguar. Rouch went further by using the presence of cameras and cameramen to provoke psychodramas (de Brigard 1975:31). In most cases, feedback was used to meet the filmers' obligation to the people filmed. Rouch calls this "sharing" anthropology.
Timothy Asch introduced something different in 1978, when he embarked on a project with Patsy Asch and in collaboration with Linda Connor, who had worked closely with Balinese healers and mediums. The project resulted in four films and a monograph, which "represent collaborative ethnographic documentation [with] Jero Tapakan (the Balinese medium) as the most important person in this collaboration" (Connor et al. 1986:xi). The monograph fulfilled Asch's objective of integrating written teaching materials with film so they were available in one package.
A Balinese Trance Seance (Asch et al. 1980 [film]) was the first in the series; it was filmed in 1978 in straightforward documentation style, but in collaboration with Connor. Loizos (1993:40) describes it this way: We see Jero as therapeutic specialist being consulted by several different clients, who are recently bereaved and troubled by anxieties and need to understand what their dead need from them. Jero questions them, goes into possession, and her words become the words of various deities or of the recently dead. Through her, the bereaved receive communication and, subsequently, advice. To explore the value of showing people a film of themselves, Asch et al. made a second film, Jero on Jero (1981 [film]), in which they show Jero's reactions viewing the first film.
Loizos raises questions prompted by this experiment. Should this second film be given the same status as the first film, which merely shows Jero at work? Or, do we now need a typology of documents, primary, secondary, tertiary, in which this becomes a metadocument? In the second film, Loizos (1993) sees Jero's strong ego in a nontraditional context, encountering an objectified representation of her as a person, and as a healer, on film. He proposes that this film be considered a metadocument to be handled with care. He finds the most important aspect resulting from this experiment to be how this whole process has affected Jero's character (p. 41). This project - films and monograph - is a package intended to aid in teaching.
Native Film as Experiment
Informant-made films can show overall views of selected activities in the community, particularly when the film is used to record naturally occurring activities. In 1966, Worth and Adair began experimenting with such films. They
undertook to teach a group of Navajo men and women how to make their own motion pictures, on any subject they wanted, to elicit a "visual flow" that could be analyzed "in terms of the structure of images and the cognitive processes of rules used in making those images" (Worth and Adair 1972:27-28). Worth and Adair hypothesized that motion picture film-conceived, photographed, and sequentially arranged by a people, in this case, the Navajo-would reveal aspects of coding, cognition, and values that may be inhibited, not observable, or not analyzable when the investigation is totally dependent on verbal exchange-especially when such research must be done in the language of the investigator.
Within two months, the Navajo produced short exercises and seven silent films. The films were analyzed and shown to the Navajo community. They were eventually distributed and gained popularity in experimental film circles (The Navajo People 1966 [film]). "Our own study of Navajo films shows clearly that what the Navajos show us about themselves in their films is very different from what an anthropologist shows in his. Even in a film about weaving, the Navajo concentrates the bulk of his film on things that are never seen in an anthropologist's film on the same subject" (Worth and Adair 1972).
A little over a decade later, Bellman and Jules-Rosette (1977:v) carried out a controlled and comparative study on the introduction of media to two African communities-a traditional rural village on the Liberian-Guinea border and a shanty town compound on the outskirts of Lusaka, Zaire. Both anthropologists carried out extended fieldwork and both asked informants to videotape or film different kinds of social interactions, palavers, and rituals. Their materials do contain a particular kind of editing process. The informant camera persons edited in-camera by using the techniques of turning the camera on and off, zoom (in and out), dolly (toward and away from the action), pan (horizontal and vertical), tilt, follow shots, narration, and various combinations of the above (pp. 4, 5).
Bellman and Jules-Rosette extended in-camera editing to include not only the filmer's selection of shots but also the techniques used to produce them. They knew that there was a limited time on the battery (no electricity) and amount of tape or film in the camera. Consequently, they carefully chose which occurrences were significant. For example, in one of the Kpelle research tapes, a high-ranking member of the Poro (men's secret society) priesthood recorded an important ritual of the Sande (women's secret society) and its Zo (priestess-leadership). The tape, approximately 25 minutes long, has 18 recognizable segments. Each, in turn, is segmented by different camera techniques that serve as markers to show particular actors, follow central action, study interesting movements, display instruments, etc.
Borrowing the concept of cademe from Worth and Adair (1972), these meaningful units are tape-film components or cademic markers. In the Navajo experiment, 16-mm films were made by Navajo living on an Arizona reservation. Worth and Adair defined a cademe as "that unit obtained by pushing the start button of the camera and releasing it, producing one continuous image event" (p. 89).
Bellman and Jules-Rosette (1977:4-5) extended the definition to include in-camera editing techniques. "Our concept of cademic marker refers to the location of meaningful camera techniques in the analysis."
Years later, cameras were given to indigenous populations for advocacy, political purposes, and as devices for cultural and political self-representation to resist encroachment on their territories and exploitation of their resources (Turner 1991, 1995). Video technology with automatic synchronous sound further facilitated this genre and became an additional resource available to informants in their productions.
In anthropology, deconstruction and reconstruction of ancient or traditional culture or culture artifacts are used experimentally to shed light or test scientific hypotheses on the past. In archaeology, James Hill (1977; Hill and Gunn 1977) devised a method to discover and identify which artifacts in prehistoric contexts were made or used by specific prehistoric individuals. First, a collection of ceramic vessels was painted in Tijuana, Mexico, by local artisans. When the painting was completed, the pots were photographed and then broken into sherds to resemble the pottery remnants dug up by archaeologists. The sherds were analyzed and grouped. The archaeologists matched the sherds with the recorded information (photo and labeling) on the original pots groups, showing correspondence to individual artisans (see Hill and Gunn [1977:55-1081 for the published results). Photography is regularly used in scientific archaeology as integral to the data-recording methodology and for replication. In this case, it was used to reconstruct culture.
Asen Balikci is the visual anthropologist best associated with reconstructing culture on film. His aim is to partially reconstruct sequences of traditional behavior, especially where there is loss of indigenous cultures, without portraying the extraordinary or the unique. Balikci (1975) views this as a way to "in a sense reverse the acculturative process and salvage elements of traditional behavior for posterity" (p. 191). Working among the Netsilik Inuit, he tried to reconstruct the "old pattern" vividly remembered by middle-aged Inuit-to provide instructional materials for classroom use about the Netsilik traditional past.
Boas filmed the Kwakiutl in 1930 because of an urgent need to salvage and, if necessary, reconstruct as much of their traditional culture as possible. Boas assumed a theory of culture that allowed him to remove bits of behavior from their normal context for recording and analysis (see Ruby 1983). He filmed two Kwakiutl chiefs boasting (that is, making speeches). Normally, these speeches would have occurred inside, at night within the context of a particular ceremony, and in front of an audience. In the film, the two men are outside, in daylight, without ceremony or audience.
Morris (1994:64) sees in the footage "the props of reconstruction: the make shift stage, the self-conscious performance, even the recording equipment in one corner of the frame"-a reconstruction, she argues, "that effaces the supposed impurities of cultural change, and thereby elides the reality of cultural contact, colonization, and historical process." Morris considers this methodological tool as perpetuating "a vision of the Native as Adamic, as originary . . . the image of the savage as custodian of the paradisiacal garden. . . abundance assumed to have been the basis of pre-contact cultures on the Northwest Coast" (p. 63). However, in line with the argument by Colombres (1985b:12, 13) about Flaherty, Morris points out that when Boas made The Kwakiutl of British Columbia, the population was reduced by disease, the ceremonial life was virtually strangled by federal (Canadian)legislation banning the potlatch, there was limited access to the resources that had been the staple of their life, and they suffered from widespread poverty and cultural dislocation. "Boas was not simply recording the processes of the present, but reconstructing a culture-an imaginary culture-still pristine and innocent of Euro-Canadian ways" (Morris 1994:63-64). Ruby (1983:29) considers Boas's methodology of reconstruction as valid in the context of his general theory of culture, in which case the staged boasting performance still retained those elements Boas wished to study.
The well-known works of Robert Flaherty, an explorer/artist with no claims to training in anthropology, exemplify a nonscientific approach to reconstruction. When he "directed a South Seas love story for Hollywood" (de Brigard 1975:22), his perspective was that film is a purely personal interpretation of the local culture. He observed closely, and for extended periods, the way of life of the indigenous people he was to film and then selected an "actor(s)" from among the local population to become the local interpreter(s) of culture on camera.
Flaherty's most talked-about film is Nanook of the North (1922 [film]). The other two are Moana (1926 [film]) and Man of Aran (1934 [film]). A spokesman for theAsia Society described Nanook as "drama, education, and inspiration combined." And John Grierson (cited in de Brigard 1975), wrote: "Moana, being a visual account of events in the life of a Polynesian youth, has documentary value" (de Brigard 1975:23).
Flaherty's favorite theme was the continuously heroic struggle of total, primordial man against infinitely powerful and hostile elements. Messenger (1966) wrote that Flaherty was so deeply influenced by primitivism and his philosophy of aesthetics that he created new customs, such as shark fishing-a central theme of his work-and seriously distorted numerous indigenous customs to make the "man of Aran" fit his preconceptions. "As to the soil building and associated seaweed collecting technique it is faulty to the point of being ridiculous. And for the most dramatic scene depicting the wrecking of the craft on shore while landing, local informants agreed that weather conditions were not as severe nor the situation as
perilous as illustrated on the film" (p. 21). According to Balikci (1975:195), Man of Aran wouldn't qualify as "ethnographically valid reconstruction of the local culture." Heider (1976:23) criticized the claim of native feedback, although he says that "the Flaherty legend relates how Flaherty developed his footage each evening and screened it for his subjects, getting their reactions and advice and thus making them real collaborators in the filmmaking process." Heider found no evidence that this was a serious attempt at reaching the natives' insight into their own culture. For more details on the making of Man of Aran and Desert People, see Balikci's account (1975:191-199).
Another film of culture reconstruction is Desert People, by Ian Dunlop and Robert Tonkinson (1969 [film]). At a mission station, Dunlop and Tonkinson found a family of Aborigines who, until a short time before, had been living off the land. They asked the family to return to its traditional grounds for a period of time to be filmed. The family accepted and left for the bush, armed only with traditional tools, leaving behind imported goods they owned at the mission station. The director concentrated on various daily routines. The reconstruction of the traditional family life was so successful that even the critical ethnographer remains oblivious to the powerful, intrusive society encircling this Aboriginal group (for more on ethnographic filmmaking in Australia, see Dunlop 1983).
Reconstructing the traditional life of the Netsilik Inuit was different. From 1959-1960, Asen Balikci did ethnographic fieldwork among the eastern Netsilik Inuit living around PelIy Bay. At that time, the band numbered about a hundred individuals and had gone through several acculturative stages. The introduction of the rifle had caused profound changes in settlement pattern, subsistence techniques, and economic organization. In traditional times, a group hunt for seals was a complex system of meat sharing at the community level. In the 1950s, the Pelly Bay band still lived in igloos, drove dog teams, preferred caribou leather for clothing, and relied exclusively on local food. But by that time, hunters preferred to shoot seals at the ice edge and didn't share-seals that were shot belonged to the hunter. Caribou hunting from kayaks had been completely abandoned. With a rifle, a Netsilik could search for herds in the vast tundra and make a kill in any season. The middle aged and elderly vividly remembered the old ways (Balikci and Mary-Rousseliere 1967-68 [film]).
"In 1962," Balikci (1975) writes, "I received an assignment to reconstruct on film the traditional migration pattern of the Pelly Bay band with the aim of preparing instructional material for social science courses at the elementary level" (pp. 196-197). In the Flaherty tradition, Balikci selected a principal "actor" Itimanguerk, 50 years old. Itimanguerk was a camp headman; thus free to select his camp fellows and instruct them in the old ways without intervention or instruction by the anthropologist. Gradually, Balikci became more and more involved with the recording procedures and selecting what to film and what to leave out. This process
highly depends on the anthropologist's ethnographic knowledge and understanding of Inuit traditional life.
How does an anthropologist determine the domain to be filmed without leaving it entirely to spontaneity and chance during shooting? In what way was Balikci's reconstruction that of a "whole" culture as he claims? Below, in the section on Visual Ethnography, I discuss establishing field and analytic methodology to address these questions.
Spurious Arguments, Reifying Terms, Confounding Players
"To appreciate this, one need only contrast Bateson and Mead's Childhood Rivalry in 1940 and the work of the MacDougalls in East Africa in the 1970s." By this, Crawford (1992:72) was referring to the new technologies of cinema and, presumably, their influence on the quality of productions. But other than quality of production and aesthetics, these two are very different projects. Bateson and Mead are anthropologists who, as a team, used film for research purposes, and their project is a systematic and comparative ethnographic study. Mead made their project's priority explicit. She stated that they weren't filming "for the purpose of making documentary films and photographs for which one decides a priori upon the norms and then gets the Balinese to go through these behaviors in suitable lighting" (Bateson and Mead 1942:49, emphasis added). The reference here is to the relative staging of behaviors and events to accommodate the limitations of technology (light conditions).
The MacDougalls' filmmaking project is about culture, any culture. The project calls for no prerequisite culture or language training. I see a problem in that. In a recent discussion with David MacDougall (El Guindi 1995a), I noted an emergent homogenization of people he filmed-that is, despite the cultural diversity of the people he films (Africans, Indians, Australians, or Sardinians), they either don't talk or they talk in a paced, slow, measured way. In contrast, all the people in my fieldwork talk a lot, on and off camera. Such rich verbal behavior often contains subtle cultural nuances that I feel shows their cultural identity and shouldn't be selected out on technical or artistic grounds.
From my perspective, a people are humanized when their representation is grounded in culture identity. Despite a sensitive empathy with the people, a dehumanizing homogenization may result from filmic conventions. The challenge then becomes, as in my own films, how to present rich verbal information within the film document. In the last film I completed, Ghurbal (EI Guindi 1995c), I faced a formidable problem with selection in subtitling because of the rich verbosity that I knew was culturally characteristic and relevant and that I wished to include.
Crawford (1992:72) sees the problem as being that "Ethnographic film-making has always run the risk of falling between the two stools of anthropology and
cinematography." But Margaret Mead was certain about the place of film. To Margaret Mead (1962:138), visual tools were used for research data and discovery: "Film materials ... have made it possible to explore ways to tap the theoretical insights of other disciplines through the use of visual materials and of providing a continuing resource for the exploration of new hypotheses as the behavior, recorded on film, can be viewed repeatedly in the light of other new materials." "[Mead and Bateson] studied child development with the camera" (Collier 1988:74). As such, Mead didn't distinguish between moving and still photography (1963).
But MacDougall (1978:405) places ethnographic film in cinema and calls for film to be considered a cultural artifact serving "as a source of data for social science in the manner of myths, rock paintings, and government papers." Loizos (1993) concurs, suggesting that we look at ethnographic film from the cinematic point of view, as a kind of documentary cinema, lest it become "narrowly concerned with ghetto culture called `ethnographic films"' (1993:1). He calls on anthropologists to "unlearn the idea that formal conceptual analysis rules the academy-and rules alone" (1993:64). In this tradition, the stress is on multiple subjectivities and plural learning systems rather than on systematic characteristics of human behavior and patterned culture. The concern is not with film for research, elicitation, discovery, recording, or archiving. It situates film in cinema, rather than in the social science tradition of anthropology, and draws inspiration from literary theory, which challenges objectivity and facts.
In my view, the need to listen to indigenous voices has always been a core part of anthropology's perspective and a central premise underlying its formal conceptual thinking. Poetry, painting, novels, and songs have always been included, along with sex, food, child rearing practices, etc., in the cultural repertoire of traditional ethnographies. Even cinema is included as a cultural element for analysis (see Heider's 1991 analysis of Indonesian cinema as a window on national culture). Loizos (1993:80) said that in the 1980s more anthropologists came to see their informants "as more rounded than they had been as producers of kinship systems, economic data, myths and cosmologies." My question is: Other than for reasons of a researcher's personal preference, why are people more rounded when they recite a poem than when they exchange necklaces?
Mead's observation (1963) about forgetting that other things are happening when the camera is pointing in one direction, or that other things are happening outside the frame, was misused to raise spurious arguments about objectivity, selectivity, and representationality. Sorenson (1975:466) notes that "A peculiar myth that has developed in recent years is that anthropological films cannot be scientific because their content is always governed by selective interests. This absurd notion ignores the degree to which selectivity and special interest underlie all scientific inquiry. Method is crucial. In order for visual records to be a valid scientific resource, they need to be shaped by the scientific methodological considerations that govern the investigation of nonrecurring phenomena."
Rather, the point to be made from Mead's remark is about the importance of visual research data and their use for discovery. Heider (1983) discusses research footage (not intended for inclusion in a finished film) used by an ethnographer to capture an image of behavior for careful frame-by-frame analysis. "Research with film and videotape allowed people like Bateson, Birdwhistell, Lomax, and Kendon to demonstrate how much important information is continually being expressed and communicated in whole bodies and in both sides of the conversation. Their research has had a direct impact on thinking about ethnographic film" (pp. 2-10). Adam Kendon shot his footage of greeting behavior in wide angle to pick up unexpectedly early stages of a greeting sequence (Kendon and Ferber 1973).
Heider observes that random focusing on some behavior of interest might sacrifice other, potentially important data. This is well demonstrated by the case where John Collier worked with Bernard Siegel on an ethnography of Picuris Pueblo-a dwindling pueblo of the Tewa language group. Collier's contribution was to make photographs for Siegel to use in photo interviewing. Both presumed that ceremonial dances were the heart of Pueblo religious life. San Lorenzo Day, a summer fiesta, took place during the research, and Collier photographed the theatrically exquisite Deer Dance. During photo interviewing, however, Collier and Siegel learned that the dance held a relatively low place in the day's ceremony. As one collaborator said, "We do this to please the white people" (Collier 1988:90).
MacDougall (1978:405) first dismisses ethnographic film totally, saying that it "cannot be said to constitute a genre, nor is ethnographic film-making a discipline with unified origins and an established methodology." In fact, as the overview in this chapter shows, there is unified origin and a sustained interest in establishing methodology. Griaule sustained Regnault's concept of ethnographic filming as a scientific activity concerned with traditional ethnographic subjects. He distinguished three film types: archive footage for research, training films for anthropology courses, and public education films, occasionally including "works of art" (Griaule 1957). Andre Leroi-Gourhan applied the term ethnological (to film) and introduced another tripartite classification: the research film, the "exotic" travel film (to be abhorred as superficial and exploitative), and the "film of environment," produced with no scientific aim but deriving an ethnological value from its exportation (1948). Chanock and Sorenson (1975:432) refer to the research film method, which provides identified and annotated visual records, unedited, not designed to impose preconceived ideas, and focused on films based on ethnographic understandings of a culture.
Loizos (1993) avoids classification and remarks instead on films from specific periods as examples of innovations and modalities. The innovations he identifies are (I) production technology; (2) diverse subject matter; (3) widened range of strategies of argument used by filmmakers-that is, films that combine several modes of representation; and (4) enhanced ethnographic contextualizing devices. He proposes the following modalities: documentation, explanatory, explanation rejected
(film modality that rejects conceptual explanation root and branch), and context enrichment.
MacDougall (1978:405) finds one distinction useful: ethnographic footage (raw material that comes out of a camera, like field notes, used for a variety of purposes including the making of films) and ethnographic films (structured works made for presentation to an audience). Then he further divides ethnographic footage into two major forms: research footage to serve specific scientific inquiries, and record footage made to provide more general documents for archiving and future research-footage for research purposes.
To Heider (1983:5), "ethnographic films must themselves be ethnographically accountable" and "the better the ethnographicness, the better the cinema." Omori (1988) focused his discussion on footage film and ethnographic film. He draws the analogy from print ethnography and sees a correspondence between footage film and field notes, on the one hand, and ethnographic film and monograph, on the other. He states that within visual anthropology there are two main forms that films take. First, there are simple footage films taken as field notes. Second, there is the ethnographic film (like a monograph) that is shot in a comprehensive way and organized around a theme related to the entire culture being studied (p. 192). Footage films are short films recording a technical process or scenes of human behavior within a group. The monograph film tends to be longer and it has a story that is constructed on a specific theme. Omori characterized the difference as part/whole, analytic/interpretive, scientific/ethnographic, or differential length (pp. 192, 194, 196). Wolf believed that there were three kinds of scientific film: the research film, the scientific documentation film, and the university instructional film (1961:16-20). Increasingly, there are visual studies that focus on popular media, home photography, and public culture (Chalfen 1975, 1987, 1992; Ruby 1981; Ginsburg 1995; El Guindi 1996b).
These progressive developments placed filming squarely within anthropology rather than documentary cinema-a position expressed by many anthropologists to this day. Sol Worth (1969, 1972; also see Gross and Worth 1997) referred to ethnographic film as a set of signs to study the behavior of a people, used either as a recording of data about culture or as data of culture. Jay Ruby (1975) proposed four criteria for ethnographic films. They should be (1) films about whole cultures, or definable portions of cultures; (2) informed by explicit or implicit theories of culture; (3) explicit about the research and filming methods they had used; and (4) use a distinctively anthropological lexicon. In a now-classic monograph, Karl Heider said (1976:75) that satisfactory ethnographic films are those revealing "whole bodies, and whole people, in whole acts." He sketched a system for discussing different attributes that contribute to the ethnographicness of a film.
Balikci (1988) discussed degrees of ethnographicness on the basis of six premises used "to define what is ethnographic in a film" (pp. 33-34).
Rollwagen (1988a, 1988b) stressed the disciplinary framework within which ethnographic film is situated, ethnography being a scientific description conducted within a theoretical framework. This puts film/photography within anthropology, not cinema, and entails the premise that the visual medium is integral to research or, in the case of ethnographic film, is based on a significant amount of research prior to filming (see Ruby 1983 on the role of photography in research by Boas). Clearly, ethnographic film isn't merely involvement in other cultures.
I propose grouping film in a way that is both inclusive of all the relevant visual forms and sufficiently differentiating in form, purpose, and character to have anthropological value. All require culture knowledge and are suitable, even recommended, for classroom teaching and public lecturing. They are (1) the visual medium as a recording tool of data for analysis and/or archival purpose; (2) the visual medium for elicitation and discovery; (3) the visual medium used for experimental culture reconstructions; and (4) the visual medium as ethnography - visual ethnography.
In 1972, 13 years before my formal involvement with visual anthropology and before making my first visual ethnography (El Guindi 1986c [film]), Sol Worth (1972:8-12) called for the development of new methods of analysis (for the visual mode) tied to anthropological problems and theories. It is crucial, he stressed, to integrate the study of ethnographic film into anthropology.
I earned my Ph.D. in anthropology that year, after doing more than 32 months of fieldwork in rural Oaxaca, Mexico, among the valley Zapotec. In my research (El Guindi 1986b), I had established a methodological base for formal collaboration with indigenous informants in formulating an ethnography on Zapotec ritual. I called this collaborative method "native ethnography.""
While building an analytic framework, I also developed a notion of adequacy, linking data gathering, data analysis (grounded in anthropological insights), and ethnography construction into an interdependent process. This was the anthropological framework for my film El Sebou' 14 (El Guindi 1986c; also see Film Study Guide [El Guindi 1996a]). The film was about the Egyptian birth ceremony that I had been studying between 1983 and 1985." It was to be a visual ethnography.
Triadic Relations in Film
Two notions attributed to Jean Rouch participant camera and cinema direct- are useful for defining the quality of, and distance between, filmer and filmed.
Participant camera links camera and people, turning filmmaking into a stimulant for mutual understanding and dignity. It is a visual field technique of both humanistic and methodological value for enhancing the quality of field filming. Cinema direct refers to direct filming of actions and direct contact between filmers and filmed. The intent is to maximize dignity and respect for the people as the quality of recorded data is simultaneously enhanced.
The quality of the relationship between filmmaker and people filmed is crucial but sometimes overromanticized, as rapport often is in general anthropology (El Guindi 1986b:7-43). The phrase, "style of interacting with people" (Asch and Asch 1988:172-173), becomes meaningful when placed in the process of building an analytic framework and when film construction is subjected to rigor as field technique. Establishing rapport and having a good relationship with the indigenous population doesn't magically translate into quality anthropological data gathering, visual or nonvisual.
Obviously, in print ethnography there's a third partner to the team of ethnographer/ people - those who read the completed ethnography and interpret/ misinterpret what the ethnographer wrote. Crawford (1992) turns this upside down when he asserts that "unedited film footage may be shown to an audience able to decode the images whereas the data providing the raw material for ethnographic writing needs to go through some degree of codification in order to make any sense to other than the producer" (p. 73). In my view, neither raw film nor raw field notes can be decoded without context, unless, of course, the image or the text is taken as pure art - uncontextualized in culture.
Templin (1982:138) finds that for images "there are two contexts that yield meanings"-the context in which they are made and the context in which they are viewed. Crawford and Simonsen (1992:3) see three dyadic relations, namely filmer/filmed, filmer/audience, and filmed/audience. Rollwagen (1988b:xv) observes at (least three interpretations in any communication: that of the individual participant in a cultural system being studied, that of the anthropologist, and that of the reader of the written work or the viewer of the anthropological film.
Some studies went further by exploring the kind of interpretation attributed to ethnographic film images. Omori (1988:184) uses the notion of reflexivity to refer to the experience of viewing film as taking on "the thoughts and consciousness of a participating member from a different culture . . . . The emotionally involved viewer seems to enter the screen, and then experiences an identification with the people who appear in the scene, a temporary emotional tie between the viewer and the image called participation affective by Edgar Morin . . . a mental process of becoming one with the image on the screen." Wilton Martinez (1990, 1992) found that American students in anthropology classes interpret ethnographic films in ways that reinforce ethnocentric stereotypes of non-Western cultures. Evidence of such reactions has become the subject of much recent debate in visual anthropology.
Parameters for Visual Ethnography
This section describes the methodological framework I developed while making El Sebou': Egyptian Birth Ritual (El Guindi 1986c [film]), the film about a traditional ceremony of the same name. The ceremony is held in many parts of rural and urban Egypt (and elsewhere in the Arabic-speaking region), by Muslims and Copts. It celebrates a child's "coming out" (the sebou' in the film is that of boy-girl twins). It also provides a ritualized cultural context to establish a child's identification with his or her own gender group and with the family.
During the filming process, I made spontaneous innovations, selected specific modes, and defined premises. Altogether, these constitute the methodological base for the film project and for a theory of visual ethnography. I will discuss these innovations, modes, and premises in terms of perspective, technique, and conceptual parameters.
Perspective refers to the source of premises that influence the orientation I adopted in filming. The orientations were anthropology and its core principles of holism, a comparative base for analysis, fieldwork, cultural knowledge, mastery of field language, and rapport with and respect for the people. Another dimension to perspective is self-sufficiency of the ethnographic filmic account on the subject matter. What if the film is the only source of information for the viewer? Deciding on self-sufficiency is not trivial since it relates to the use of a number of filmic techniques to provide the background and support information that is not evident in images alone.
Perspective is also about the target audience. Is the film for local or Euro American viewing? Is it for television? For public audiences? For classroom teaching? For discussion in anthropology classes or in classes on Middle East Studies? The most constraining, yet financially rewarding target, is television. But for television, ethnographic standards might have to be overlooked and television filming needs to be well financed. Finally, there is the dual context-triadic participation mentioned earlier. I was alert to the prejudicial portrayals and attitudes against things Arabic and Islamic and knew that this realization would guide my decisions. For me, the primary audience context is education and communication through direct classroom teaching and public viewing.
The second aspect is technique in shooting and editing. Whose eye will be behind the camera? How will the perspective described above translate into a coherent visual document? How will field-gathered data inform filming? How can we convey most of the information without much accompanying textual material? How will the filmic medium translate culture and cultural knowledge?
I devised three specific methods/techniques during the shooting and editing to deal with some of the questions raised above. They are: layering," charting content, and freezing structure. Layering refers to using multiple techniques for culture translation and communication, all layered within the film itself. This
was the technique of choice for El Sebou' and for El Moulid (El Guindi 1990 [film]). The multiple modes are: bottom-of-screen English subtitling of Arabic statements made by the people in the film, segment-by-segment English titling of Arabic songs, subjective voice (English rendition of voices faithful in diction and mannerism), and objective voice (analytic narrative). This mode has never been in vogue cinematically. The two other techniques are discussed below.
The third and final aspect is conceptual parameters. These include internal contextualizing, determining and visualizing the rite-of-passage form, and defining the cultural domain of ritual. Contextualizing" refers to the inclusion of images that are culturally and structurally relevant. Ethnographic analysis determines all three-the relevance of contextual images, the ceremony as a rite-of-passage, and the domain of the ritual.
After shooting some contextual material, I realized that I had to inform the entire team of my analysis to ensure smooth coordination, particularly during the focal ceremony. The team included an Egyptian cameraman and soundman, whose background was in both news photography and nonsync sound documentary tradition. Directing camera moves and framing during the shoot, a mode French anthropologist/filmmaker Colette Piault used when she filmed daily life in a Greek village (1988), wouldn't be suitable for a ritual event where the pace is fast and involves spontaneity and on-the-spot choices.
Sharing the analysis was also meant to ensure comprehensive coverage of concrete, events, and movements, and abstract aspects of the cultural activity, such as family warmth and gender intimacy. The Sebou' took two days. First, there are related ceremonies and events that occur on the eve of the Sebou' in the same home as the Sebou'. The second day is the Sebou' itself. Other components of the event included purchasing special foods and specific beverages, crafting ceremonial candles, and the like. These took another two days, so the ceremony was to be covered in four days of shooting.
In the field and in preparation for the spontaneous "team seminar" held before shooting, I had made a chart describing all aspects of the ceremony and divided these elements into three groups-Aspects, Actions, and Objects (see Figures I and 2). Aspects refers to abstract observations, which can be indirectly shown through concrete illustrations. Actions refers to concrete movements (lighting candles, the ritual meal, and symbolically winnowing the babies in a sieve). Objects covers ceremonial crafts and physical objects such as the ceremonial pots, the sieve, the candles, the candy sacks, etc. - all part of the ceremony.
Discussion with the filming team was useful in many ways.'" Only one 16-mm camera would be used because it would be less intrusive, and this is an intimate family ceremony taking place in a small physical space. The cameraman said that he was already familiar with the Sebou' and knew exactly what to shoot and how to frame. In the discussion, it became evident that his knowledge was based on his personal, concrete experience and wasn't generalizable. Also, there were aspects that he simply "didn't see" or "consider marked." And he expected certain occurrences to occur exactly the way he had experienced them.
There are two central rites in the ritual: (1) winnowing of the baby and (2) carrying the baby down the stairs in a candle procession. Either (1) or (2) will occur first. Based on ethnographic knowledge, I shared the observation about limited possibilities. The cameraman preferred one possibility. For nonintervention-with the natural flow of events, I insisted we prepare for either. In our filmed event, the ritual leaders led the procession down the stairs first, then winnowed the twin babies. The film team rushed to catch both sequences on film. We succeeded.
Figure 2. Chart retyped for clarity from original after return from the field (Fadwa El Guindi ®1986).
In the discussion I inadvertently omitted the action of sieve rolling, the one element later missed during shooting although it occurred in front of the cameraman. The chart was valuable for accuracy in coverage and economy in footage. Envisioning the contextual scenes as integral to the ceremony-a nonlinear approach-turned out to be a major strength of the film (see Lobban [ 1988] for a review of this film).
Three qualities underlie structuring El Sebou' as a visual ethnography - linearity, duality, and breaking linearity. Linearity is achieved through rites of passage. El Sebou' follows the form identified by van Gennep 1960 (1909) as universal for rites of passage in which participants pass from a marked state of separation to one of incorporation, with a transitional period of liminality in between. El Sebou' marks the end of the phase of liminality for the babies.
Duality arises in analysis of Egyptian ritual in general. A cursory examination of major Egyptian life cycle rituals shows the duality of 7 and 40. For example, the duration of mourning for a deceased person is 40 days, while celebrating the birth of a 12th-century holy man lasts 7 days (El Guindi 1995b). Sebou' is an Arabic word from the root sab'a, meaning 7. The ceremony occurs on the 7th day after birth. Seven recurs as a theme throughout the ceremony - 7 grains sprinkled around the house, the mother crosses 7 times over the newborn - among others.
It was necessary to determine where in the ceremony the duality could be seen visually. I determined that 7 is best expressed when the newborn twins are carried out of the bedroom past the threshold dividing private from public sections of the home. This also marks the end of the phase of liminality when the babies are ceremonially incorporated into the cultural world of their parents. The mother remains secluded for 40 days after giving birth. So 40 is best represented by showing her standing on the side at the top of the stairs of the building, clearly not joining the procession of men, women, and children in the family.
Once I determined both qualities of the duality, I explored filmic techniques to represent it. I decided to use the freeze frame to mark the duality of the ritual structure. Seven and 40 corresponded to child and mother since the child comes out of the separation period on the 7th day while the mother comes out of the separation period on the 40th day after giving birth. A frame was stopped at each of the two points, marking the complementary opposition of child/mother and 7/40. By freezing the frame, one is freezing properties of the structure, as it were.
The third quality-breaking linearity-was the mode adopted for contextualizing the temporal ceremony by cutting to contextualizing sequences and events. Three kinds of events provided the visual material for this purpose: interviews with the ritual leaders (three women relatives), the making of ceremonial crafts, and the purchasing of foods and items needed for the ceremony in preparation for the ritual.
The film opens with a scene of a Sebou' shop in the bazaar and a woman, called Umm Sayyid, at the counter facing the salesman in a Sebou' shop. Another scene shows a man carrying decorated candles coming out of a candle-decorating shop into the winding alleys of Khan El-Khalili bazaar in Cairo. These sequences establish the context of ceremony in the film. This is ritually relevant context. Then the camera brings us into the intimacy of a family home, usually inaccessible to "outsiders." We see two babies, almost completely covered (with a part of their heads showing from under the blanket) sleeping in a large bed, in a bedroom, surrounded by family members, one of whom is blowing incense around the room by swinging a long-chained brass incensor, with smoke blowing from the burning incense. On each side of the bed is a clay pot, concealed by commercial decorations and battery operated lights. The clay pot is a key ritual object. The shape of the pots reflects gender difference (see Figure 3). Then, gender is further reinforced during the ceremony when the pots are "dressed up," the male-representing pot by the father and the female-representing pot by the mother.
Figure 3. Gendered claypots: ollah (female) and abri' (male).
The objects used to "dress up" the clay pots are also consistent. The boy's pot is dressed with the father's prayer beads and the girl's pot is dressed with the mother's gold jewelry. This reinforces the identification of the child with two aspects of the cultural system that are most relevant to his or her identity-the family and gender. In essence, the clay pot becomes the symbol of creation - clay
being associated with birth and creation in the cosmological imagery of Egypt's past. In ancient Egyptian mythology, the creator Khnum "creates" humankind by fashioning the child and "the other" out of clay. The shape of the pot is revealing and since the modern-day pots are covered with decorative elements hiding their original shape, a sequence of clay-pot crafting was used after the clay-pot dressing up sequence. Linear time is broken by images of clay pot crafting filmed in the pottery village in Old Cairo where these pots are made.
But by the end of the eve of the Sebou' (before the segment on the main day itself) the film has already shown key ceremonial objects: clay pots, incense, seven grains, beans soaking in water, and candles and several key activities and rites: buying ceremony related objects and foods, lighting the candle in the clay pot, measures to protect the newborns from harm, "dressing up" the gendered pots, drinking the ceremonial drink mughat, and packing candy and peanuts in Sebou' special sacks. And on the actual day of the Sebou' in the film, sequences show candle making, general purchasing scenes, and segments of interviews. Folk songs spontaneously sung during the ceremonies are subtitled in verse-by-verse form (rather than phrase by phrase) to preserve the viewers' reading continuity.
Ritual Space Within Culture Space
Ritual space is structured by the processual linear universal form characterizing rites-of-passage and by the thematic duality characterizing Egyptian life-cycle ritual as a whole. That is, the two modes - the linear mode and the duality mode together constitute the abstract parameters that demarcate Sebou' ritual space. Throughout the Sebou', the ceremony takes place in the privacy of the home and the family. It would have been possible to limit the film by the boundary of ritual space and still have an interesting film. It would also have been possible to open the film in the more commonly used way, by situating the ceremony and the ceremony home geographically or using general scenery. However, according to the criteria established for visual ethnography discussed above, contextualizing images are ritually relevant images that establish culture identity by embedding the ceremony in the large culture space and by intermittently using indigenous voices. The indigenous voice mode is done by using interview segments from three key women in the family, the ritual leaders, interpreting events and customs. This contextualizing mode led to the layering technique described above in which several modes of presentation were used for complementary purposes.
By intermittently suspending ritual time and space by means of key ritual personnel and contextualising segments, we move out of the linear mode, breaking the ritual chronology as it were, to see ritual-relevant activities interpreted by indigenous voices: clay pot crafting, candle crafting, herbs, incense, spices, candy purchasing, etc. This technique links ceremonial events taking place within ritual
time and space to the wider cultural space without losing the consistency or the momentum of the main event that is the focal subject of the visual ethnography.
This linkage between ritual space and its wider cultural space is diagrammatically represented in Figure 4.
Figure 4. Diagram representing the film theory. It informs all phases of visual ethnography of El Sebou'. This shows the relation between universal ritual form, Egyptian ritual structure, ritual space, and culture space.
In this chapter I gave an overview of the methodological history of visual anthropology and discussed various uses of film in research and ethnography.
Critique grew around ethnographic film both within visual anthropology and from anthropology at large. For Heider (1976:8), "Ethnographic film is film which reflects ethnographic understanding . . . it is more than the simple sum of ethnography plus film." This observation is nontrivial in light of the course along which ethnographic film has developed-distanced from the anthropological process.
One reaction proposes to leave the label "ethnographic film" out of anthropology for films essentially not ethnographic, and to adopt an alternative term, such as "anthropological filmmaking" to reflect a film based on anthropological theory (Rollwagen 1988b:287). Another reaction is exemplified by Ruby. He calls for removing ethnographic film altogether from visual anthropology (which should focus on research film and photography in studies of communication), unless ethnographic film "become(s) more scientific, describing culture from clearly defined anthropological perspectives" (cited in MacDougall 1978:421).
Anthropologists today accept using visual media - photographic, filmic, interactive, etc. - in the anthropological process. The challenge is how to use any visual medium, particularly film, while positioning it within the "disciplinary framework," as Rollwagen put it (1988b:288), that approaches ethnography as scientific description grounded in anthropological theory. Anthropologists haven't persuasively communicated the anthropological perspective to a public that has become more globally and visually communicative. Film can be a vital tool in this effort. It is in anthropology's interest to build that tool so that it is adequate to the task of reflecting, as well as producing, knowledge about the range of cultures and about culture itself.
The last section of this chapter proposes a theory of film that's grounded in systematic knowledge aimed at "preserving the integrity of persons, objects, and events in relation to their context and their culture" (Heider 1976:24). The process shifts to formulating a visual ethnography embedded in an empirically based, analytic framework. It builds on and feeds into systematic observation, in a research cycle that begins with data gathering and leads to visual ethnography construction that is anthropological in method, process, and product.
1. An early version of my analysis of the methodological basis of film was presented in "The Making of El Sebou': Methodological Considerations for Ethnographic Film" on the panel Visual Research Strategies-Visual Anthropology in the '80s, at the 12th International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES), Zagreb, Yugoslavia, July 28, 1988. 1 presented a revised version at the Film as Ethnography conference at the 2d Royal Anthropological Institute Film Festival, Manchester, England, September 24-28,1990, published in Rollwagen (1993; and see El Guindi 1993). This chapter is original and my analysis of film methodology describes my current position. Michael Hickey, a graduate
student of anthropology at the University of Southern California, provided research assistance, particularly in compiling bibliographic references.
2. Edison in the United States and Lumiere in Europe invented more sophisticated machines for taking motion pictures. The first films made with those primitive motion picture cameras between 1895 and 1900 had much of the spirit of "ethnographic filmmaking." Lumiere's first film showed French workers in the Peugeot auto factory outside Paris lining up to punch a time clock. Edison's first film showed his assistant sneezing. Other films depicted scenes of people walking in the street, bathing at the beach, eating, embarking on a train, and so on (see Worth 1980).
3. What remains is seven minutes long and shows three men's dances and an attempt at firemaking. See de Brigard (1975) for more details.
4. De Brigard (1975:28) describes Rouch as "a leader of the ethnographic film wave in Europe and an indefatigable producer and popularizer." Rouch decided to study anthropology during World War 11, which he spent in French West Africa supervising the construction of roads and bridges. When Rouch wasn't selected to join the Ogooua-Congo Expedition of explorers-filmmakers, he "floated down the Niger with two friends, making films by trial and error with a 16-mm Bell and Howell from the flea market." When the tripod fell overboard, "necessity nudged Rouch toward an original shooting style" (Rouch 1955, cited in de Brigard 1975:28).
5. The Rouchian forum at the Musee de l'Homme in Paris, the Bilan du Film Ethnographique, engages anthropologists and the public in a way unlike anything I have seen in ethnographic film. The first conference on ethnographic film was held there 30 years ago.
6. The first International Seminar on Visual Anthropology in India was held in Jodhpur, December 1987. It was organized jointly by the Anthropological Survey of India and the Indian National Trust for Art and Culture. The issues addressed included cultural pluralism and visual anthropology, the ethics of ethnographic filmmaking, and the potential role of visual anthropology in the Indian context (see Singh 1992a).
7. Tension will persist as long as imbalance favors Euro American anthropological cinema. Euro American white dominance is reflected in the composition of juries, selection committees, and evaluative boards of ethnographic film conferences and festivals and in most writing about film and visual anthropology. The unrecognized sense of domination by visual anthropologists vis-a-vis the non-Western world is best exemplified, in my opinion, in international film conferences/festivals such as Eyes Across the Water lI held in Amsterdam in 1992. There, films on Asia by Asians and on Africa by Africans were discussed, but there was no section on films about Europe by Europeans-as if this weren't a subject that could or should be scrutinized.
8. Asch subsequently adopted the idea of a collaborative filming team consisting of one ethnographer and one camera/sound person. He tried to establish this as a model in the film training program of the Center for Visual Anthropology at the University of Southern California. The experiment failed to produce any permanent working teams or significant team films. In his later years, and in personal communication, Asch mentioned that he would not collaborate with senior anthropologists again; it was easier to work with junior anthropologists or graduating students doing ethnography.
9. In his last film, A Celebration of Origins (1992), Asch abandoned his signature sequence film genre. The film was edited in thematic film style, festival-qualifying mode. The awarding structure developed by film festivals may have influenced that change, since sequence or research films remain outside the festival award system.
10. This wasn't quite true, since film had by then become established in the laboratory.
11. Museums were well suited to produce films on anthropological subjects, since they could send cameramen on their expeditions and attract steady audiences to their programs. In 1923, F. W. Hodge, ethnologist, and Owen Cattell, cameraman, made an excellent series about the Zuni for the Heye Foundation-Museum of the American Indian. An overview film, Land of the Zuni and Community Work, shows planting, threshing, water carrying, children at play, and gambling, by men, women, and children who appear to be goabout their daily occupations (de Brigard 1975:20-21). Three films of ceremonials show dancing and the planting of sacred wands. The rest of the series covers hairdressing, house building, bread baking, and the tanning and wrapping of deerskin leggings.
12. Quality, in this kind of filming, still meant 35mm films and, if possible, a trained cameraman. But Norman Tindale, in Australia, and Franz Boas, in British Columbia, took their own 16-mm films (de Brigard 1975).
13. See El Guindi (1986b:7-43) for a full discussion on this notion and the methodology that produced it. See also the publication by Bernard (1989) using the same methodological concept.
14. El Sebou' (El Guindi 1986c) is my first film. An analytic Film Study Guide (E1 Guindi 1996a) is companion material for teaching purposes.
15. This emerged during my research on the Islamic movement, which I began in 1976 (see El Guindi 1981, 1982, 1983, 1986a, 1987). I raised the question about "growing up" Muslim, because the movement began in the early 1970s overwhelmingly by youth and college students of both sexes. This query led to the study of birth and the Sebou =a ceremony that occurs on the seventh day of life of both sexes.
16. I believe it was Marcus Banks at a film showing of El Moulid at Oxford University, which he and Howard Murphy kindly arranged, who first used this term in the context of the multiple modes of presentation used in my film.
17. Loizos (1993) uses contextualization to mean print ethnographic material as textual support to observational film. He mentions three attempts of contextualizing - some deliberately convergent, like the Marshall/Asch texts for the San (Bushmen) films, and the Asch/Connors/Asch material on Jero; others are parallel, such as Chagnon/Asch examples, and others fairly independent and divergent, such as Dunlop's Baruya films and Godelier's writings.
18. The highly structured preshooting session worked well in sorting out roles and jobs for different team members, enhancing coordination. In the field, I established my position as director of the project vis-a-vis the cameraman and crew. This was further reinforced by having everyone address me as "doctora." The title provided the Egyptian male team
members with a familiar authority structure, which allowed them to transcend gender in the hierarchy, particularly in light of my then evident ignorance of the technical aspects of filming.
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Williams, Joan S., Allison Jablonko, Thomas D. Blakely, Fadwa El Guindi, and P.A.R. Blakely. 1995. SVA/AAA Film and Video Festival: A Short History Revisited. In Anthropological Excellence in Film: Ten Years of Award Winners in the SVA/AAA Film and Video Festival. Thomas D. Blakely and Joan S. Williams, eds. Pp. vii-viii. Arlington: Society for Visual Anthropology, a section of the American Anthropological Association.
Wintle, Pamela, and John P. Homiak. 1995. Guide to the Collections of the Human Studies Film Archives. Washington, DC: National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.
Wolf Gotthard. 1961. Der Systematischen Filmischen Bewegungsdokumentation. In Der Film in Dienste der Wissenschaft: Festschrift zur Einweihung des Neubaues fur day IWF.
Wolf,Goothard, ed. Pp. 16-20. Gottingen, Germany: IWF.
Wolf, Gotthard. (967. Der Wissenschaftliche Dokumentationsfilm and die Encyclopaedia Cinematographica. Munich: J. A. Barth.
Worth, Sol. 1969. The Development of a Semiotic Film. Semiotics 1:282-221.
Worth, Sol. 1972. A Semiotic of Ethnographic Film. Program in Ethnographic Film (PIEF) Newsletter 3:8-12.
Worth, Sol. 1980. Margaret Mead and the Shift from "Visual Anthropology" to the "Anthropology of Visual Communication." Studies in Visual Communication 6( I ):15-22.
Worth, Sol. 198Ia. Pictures Can't Say Ain't. In Studying Visual Communication. Larry Gross, ed. Pp. 162-184. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Worth, Sol. 198Ib. Studying Visual Communication. L. Gross and S. Worth, eds. Conduct and Communication Series, Virtual Edition GAVA, Temple University. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Worth, S, and 1. Adair. 1972. Through Navajo Eyes: An Exploration in Film Communication and Anthropology. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Asch, T. 1992. A Celebration of Origins. DER. 45'; color.
Asch, T, and N. A. Chagnon. 1971. The Ax Fight. DER. 30'; color.
Asch, T., and N. A. Chagnon. 1974. A Father Washes His Children. DER. 13'; color.
Asch, T., P. Asch, and L. Connor. 1980. A Balinese Trance Seance. DER. 30'; color.
Asch, T., P. Asch, and L. Connor. 1981. Jero on Jero: A Balinese Trance Seance. DER. 17% color.
Balikci, A., and G. Mary-Rousseliere. 1967-68. The Netsilik Eskimo Series. Canada. 9 films, 21 1/2 hr segments; color.
Birdwhistell, Raymond L. 1964. Kinesics. PSU. 73'; b&w.
Boas, Franz. 1973 (filmed I930). The Kwakiutl of British Columbia. (Edited by Bill Holm.) University of Washington Burke Museum; b&cw.
Chagnon, Napoleon. 1970. Magical Death. DER. 29'; color.
Diawara, Manthia. 1995. Rouch in Reverse. Parminder Vir. California Newsreel. 51'; color.
Dunlop, Ian, and Robert Tonkinson. 1969. Desert People. CMH. 51'; b&w.
El Guindi, Fadwa. 1986c. El Sebou': Egyptian Birth Ritual. El Nil Research. 2T; 16-mm; color.
El Guindi, Fadwa. (990. El Moulid: Egyptian Religious Festival. El Nil Research. 38'; 16mm; color.
El Guindi, Fadwa. 1995c. Ghurbal. El Nil Research. 3p'; 1-mm; color.
Flaherty, Robert. 1922. Nanook of the North. CMH. 55'; b&w (original silent version available from MOMA).
Flaherty, Robert. 1926. Moana. A Romance of the Golden Age. MOMA. 85'; b&w; silent.
Flaherty, Robert. 1934. Man of Aran. CMH. 77'; b&w.
Griaule, Marcel. 1935. Au pays des Dogons. Comity du Film Ethnographique (Paris). 15'; 16 mm; b&w.
Griaule, Marcel. 1938. Sous le masque noir. NSFL. 50'; color.
Lomax, Alan. 1978. Choreometrics Project (Step Style; Palm Play). Columbia University. 29' each; 16mm; color.
Lumiere, Louis. 1895. La sortie des usines (Leaving the Factories). Not available. 20'; b&w.
Marshall, John. 1957. The Hunters. DER. 74'; color.
Marshall, John. 1962. A Joking Relationship. DER. 13'; b&w.
Marshall, John. 1966. N/Um Tchai: The Ceremonial Dance ofthe !Kung Bushmen. DER. 25'; color.
Marshall, John. 1969a. A Curing Ceremony. DER. 8'; b&w.
Marshall, John. 1969b. An Argument about a Marriage. DER. 18'; color.
Marshall, John. 1971. Bitter Melons. DER. 30'; color.
Marshall, John. 1974. The A-feat Fight. DER. 14'; color.
Mead, Margaret, and Gregory Bateson. 1930s-1950s. Character Formation in Different Cultures Series. NYU., a series of six films; b&w.
Mead, Margaret, and Gregory Bateson. 1952 (approx.). First Days in the Life of a New Guinea Baby. NYU. 19'; b&w.
Mead, Margaret, and Gregory Bateson. 1952. Childhood Rivalry in Bali and New Guinea. NYU. 17'; b&w.
Mead, Margaret, and Gregory Bateson. 1954 (filmed 1930s). Bathing Babies Three Cultures. PSU. 9'; b&w.
Mead, Margaret, and Gregory Bateson. 1991 (ca. 1952). Trance and Dance in Bali. NYU. 22'; b&w.
Rouch, Jean. 1954. Les maitres fous. Films de la Pleiade. 35'; color.
Rouch, Jean. 1957. Moi, un noir. Films de la Pleiade. 80'; color.
Rouch, Jean, and Edgar Morin. 1961. Chronique dun ete. Argos Films, Paris. 90'; b&w.
The Navajo People. 1966. Navajos Film Themselves Series. NYU. 7 films. 55'; b&w.
Wolf, Gotthard. 1972. Encyclopaedia Cinematographica 1972. Institut fir den Wissenschaftlichen Film; information not available as to color or b&w.
Banks, Marcus. 1996. Haddon: The Online Catalogue of Archival Ethnographic Film Footage 1895-1945. University of Oxford. http://www.rsi.ox.ac.uk/iscathaddon/HADD-home.htmi
Gross, L., and Tobia Worth. 1997. Sol Worth's Homepage. Temple University. http://www.temple.edu/anthro/worth/worth.html