What is it like to be a Muslim possessed by a jinn spirit? How do you find refuge
from madness and evil spirits in a place like Denmark? As elsewhere in
Europe and North America, Danish Muslims have become hypervisible through
intensive state monitoring, surveillance, and media coverage. Yet their religion
remains poorly understood and is frequently identified by politicians,
commentators, and even healthcare specialists as the underlying invisible cause
of ‘integration problems’. Over several years Christian Suhr followed
Muslim patients being treated in a Danish mosque and in a psychiatric hospital.
With this book and award-winning film he provides a unique account of the
invisible dynamics of possession and psychosis, and an analysis of how the
bodies and souls of Muslim patients are shaped by the conflicting demands of
Islam and the psychiatric institutions of European nation-states. The book
reveals how both psychiatric and Islamic healing work not only to produce relief
from pain, but also entail an ethical transformation of the patient and the
cultivation of religious and secular values through the experience of pain.
Creatively exploring the analytic possibilities provided by the use of a camera,
both text and film show how disruptive ritual techniques are used in healing to
destabilise individual perceptions and experiences of agency, so as to allow
patients to submit to the invisible powers of psychotropic medicine or God.
of many academic anthropologists to appreciate the potential of visual media for communicating their knowledge and understanding not just to non-specialist audiences, but also to their academic colleagues.
But the films themselves are not the only legacy of the sponsorship of ethnographicfilm-making by British television. Another of which I am particularly aware, for obvious reasons, is the Granada Centre for VisualAnthropology, which was created as a direct result of the Disappearing World strand. In the first instance, it was the product
Beyond Observation offers a historical analysis of ethnographic film from
the birth of cinema in 1895 until 2015. It covers a large number of films made
in a broad range of styles, in many different parts of the world, from the
Arctic to Africa, from urban China to rural Vermont. It is the first extensive
historical account of its kind and will be accessible to students and lecturers
in visual anthropology as well as to those previously unfamiliar with
ethnographic film. Among the early genres that Paul Henley discusses are
French reportage films, the Soviet kulturfilm, the US travelogue, the classic
documentaries of Robert Flaherty and Basil Wright, as well as the more academic
films of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson. Among the leading film-makers of the
post-war period, he discusses Jean Rouch, John Marshall and Robert Gardner, as
well as the emergence of Observational Cinema in the 1970s. He also considers
‘indigenous media’ projects of the 1980s, and the ethnographic films that
flourished on British television until the 1990s. In the final part, he
examines the recent films of David and Judith MacDougall, the Harvard Sensory
Media Lab, and a range of films authored in a participatory manner, as possible
models for the future.
films as models or anti-models for their own work. My hope is that this book could serve a similar purpose for any novice ethnographicfilm-makers who come to read it.
There is a tendency to write or talk about the history of ethnographicfilm in terms of visual metaphors, that is, as if it were a succession of ‘visions’, ‘views’, ‘looks’ or ‘gazes’, even ‘glances’, emanating from ‘eyes’ that have been diversely construed as innocent, imperial, Third or, more locally, as Nordic, and varying in accordance with a range of different ‘visualisations
There is no soundtrack is a specific yet expansive study of sound tactics deployed in experimental media art today. It analyses how audio and visual elements interact and produce meaning, drawing from works by contemporary media artists ranging from Chantal Akerman, to Nam June Paik, to Tanya Tagaq. It then links these analyses to discussions on silence, voice, noise, listening, the soundscape, and other key ideas in sound studies. In making these connections, the book argues that experimental media art – avant-garde film, video art, performance, installation, and hybrid forms – produces radical and new audio-visual relationships that challenge and destabilize the visually-dominated fields of art history, contemporary art criticism, cinema and media studies, and cultural studies as well as the larger area of the human sciences. This book directly addresses what sound studies scholar Jonathan Sterne calls ‘visual hegemony’. It joins a growing body of interdisciplinary scholarship that is collectively sonifying the study of culture while defying the lack of diversity within the field by focusing on practitioners from transnational and diverse backgrounds. Therefore, the media artists discussed in this book are of interest to scholars and students who are exploring aurality in related disciplines including gender and feminist studies, queer studies, ethnic studies, postcolonial studies, urban studies, environmental analysis, and architecture. As such, There Is No Soundtrack makes meaningful connections between previously disconnected bodies of scholarship to build new, more complex and reverberating frameworks for the study of art, media, and sound.
about the exercise of authorship had the most debilitating effect on the first seventy-five years of ethnographicfilm-making. The period from the 1890s to the 1960s was one of immense cultural and social change, arguably considerably greater than the changes that have taken place in the almost equivalent period since the 1960s. This was also the period of the great fieldwork-based textual monographs that formed the foundations of the modern academic disciplines of social and cultural anthropology. But owing to the lack of a well-thought-through intellectual rationale
Djungguwan at Gurka’wuy
is at one level merely an ethnographicfilm about a ceremonial event. But, as with the MacDougalls’ film,
, discussed in Chapter 5 , at the same time it acts as the visual embodiment of a claim to the land based on ancestral presences. Moreover, the filmand the ceremonial event in combination serve as a means of transmitting this claim
, those who were involved at some point in the media training courses that have been offered through the departments of Anthropologyand of Visualand Environmental Studies at Harvard since 2006. These film-makers include Véréna Paravel, John Paul ‘J. P.’ Sniadecki and Stephanie Spray.
As I describe, the film-making praxis of the SEL has been moving progressively away from a conception of ethnography that is in tune with the one on which this book is based. While this movement has not been without its twists and turns, and some doubling back, there
English-language visual anthropologists, since his views about anthropologyand cinema, particularly his reflexive, participatory methods, struck a chord with the postmodernist tendencies that were then sweeping through English-language anthropology, particularly on the US side of the Atlantic. Yet although Rouch may have been hailed as a prophet of postmodernism in English-language anthropology – very much to his surprise and amusement – his particular mode of ethnographicfilm authorship was deeply rooted in a number of intellectual and artistic traditions that were
the charismatic figure of Edmund Carpenter, pioneer visual anthropologist, innovative communications theorist and interlocutor of Marshall McLuhan, also known in anthropological circles for his ethnographic work with the Inuit and in Papua New Guinea.
In 1966, Young was invited by Enrico Fulchignoni, a UNESCO functionary in Paris, and an associate of Jean Rouch, to collaborate with Carpenter on the production of a report on North American ethnographicfilms about the Pacific region. Young was then invited to