Cover image for Picturing culture : explorations of film & anthropology
Title:
Picturing culture : explorations of film & anthropology
Author:
Ruby, Jay.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
xiii, 339 pages ; 24 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780226730981

9780226730998
Format :
Book

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Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library GN347 .R83 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

Here, Jay Ruby--a founder of visual anthropology--distills his thirty-year exploration of the relationship of film and anthropology. Spurred by a conviction that the ideal of an anthropological cinema has not even remotely begun to be realized, Ruby argues that ethnographic filmmakers should generate a set of critical standards analogous to those for written ethnographies. Cinematic artistry and the desire to entertain, he argues, can eclipse the original intention, which is to provide an anthropological representation of the subjects.

The book begins with analyses of key filmmakers (Robert Flaherty, Robert Garner, and Tim Asch) who have striven to generate profound statements about human behavior on film. Ruby then discusses the idea of research film, Eric Michaels and indigenous media, the ethics of representation, the nature of ethnography, anthropological knowledge, and film and lays the groundwork for a critical approach to the field that borrows selectively from film, communication, media, and cultural studies. Witty and original, yet intensely theoretical, this collection is a major contribution to the field of visual anthropology.


Summary

Here, Jay Ruby--a founder of visual anthropology--distills his thirty-year exploration of the relationship of film and anthropology. Spurred by a conviction that the ideal of an anthropological cinema has not even remotely begun to be realized, Ruby argues that ethnographic filmmakers should generate a set of critical standards analogous to those for written ethnographies. Cinematic artistry and the desire to entertain, he argues, can eclipse the original intention, which is to provide an anthropological representation of the subjects.

The book begins with analyses of key filmmakers (Robert Flaherty, Robert Garner, and Tim Asch) who have striven to generate profound statements about human behavior on film. Ruby then discusses the idea of research film, Eric Michaels and indigenous media, the ethics of representation, the nature of ethnography, anthropological knowledge, and film and lays the groundwork for a critical approach to the field that borrows selectively from film, communication, media, and cultural studies. Witty and original, yet intensely theoretical, this collection is a major contribution to the field of visual anthropology.


Reviews 2

Choice Review

Ruby (anthropology, Temple) finds much to criticize about so-called "anthropology films" and, as he himself admits, has somewhat ironically used writing to argue that ethnographic cinema needs to be produced by anthropologists who explicitly incorporate and explicate the theories and practices of their discipline on film. In contrast to travel, documentary, or human interest films, anthropological cinema needs to be made by filmmakers trained in anthropology, be based on long-term fieldwork, have an articulated methodology and a reflexive position, and deal with issues current in the discipline. After a lengthy introductory chapter, Ruby provides a selective and critical history of ethnographic film, including chapters on the works of Robert Flaherty, Robert Gardner, and Tim Asch. Subsequent chapters deal with questions of ethics, reflexivity, film reception, voice, and authority, as well as Eric Michael's work in indigenous media. Ruby advocates an anthropological cinema in which culture is seen as performance and in which a trompe l'oeil sense of film realism produces material that realistically portrays social life while simultaneously admitting the constructed nature of film. Upper-division undergraduate students and above. C. Hendrickson Marlboro College


Choice Review

Ruby (anthropology, Temple) finds much to criticize about so-called "anthropology films" and, as he himself admits, has somewhat ironically used writing to argue that ethnographic cinema needs to be produced by anthropologists who explicitly incorporate and explicate the theories and practices of their discipline on film. In contrast to travel, documentary, or human interest films, anthropological cinema needs to be made by filmmakers trained in anthropology, be based on long-term fieldwork, have an articulated methodology and a reflexive position, and deal with issues current in the discipline. After a lengthy introductory chapter, Ruby provides a selective and critical history of ethnographic film, including chapters on the works of Robert Flaherty, Robert Gardner, and Tim Asch. Subsequent chapters deal with questions of ethics, reflexivity, film reception, voice, and authority, as well as Eric Michael's work in indigenous media. Ruby advocates an anthropological cinema in which culture is seen as performance and in which a trompe l'oeil sense of film realism produces material that realistically portrays social life while simultaneously admitting the constructed nature of film. Upper-division undergraduate students and above. C. Hendrickson Marlboro College


Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
1 Researching with a Camera: The Anthropologist as Picture Taker
2 The Aggie Must Come First: Robert Flaherty's Place in Ethnographic Film History
3 Robert Gardner and Anthropological Cinema
4 Out of Sync: The Cinema of Tim Asch
5 The Ethics of Image Making; or, "They're Going to Put Me in the Movies. They're Going to Make a Big Star Out of Me"
6 Exposing Yourself: Reflexivity, Anthropology, and Film
7 The Viewer Viewed: The Reception of Ethnographic Films
8 Speaking for, Speaking about, Speaking with, or Speaking Alongside
9 In the Belly of the Beast: Eric Michaels and Indigenous Media
10 Toward an Anthropological Cinema: Some Conclusions and a Possible Future
Notes
References
Index
Preface
Introduction
1 Researching with a Camera: The Anthropologist as Picture Taker
2 The Aggie Must Come First: Robert Flaherty's Place in Ethnographic Film History
3 Robert Gardner and Anthropological Cinema
4 Out of Sync: The Cinema of Tim Asch
5 The Ethics of Image Making; or, "They're Going to Put Me in the Movies. They're Going to Make a Big Star Out of Me"
6 Exposing Yourself: Reflexivity, Anthropology, and Film
7 The Viewer Viewed: The Reception of Ethnographic Films
8 Speaking for, Speaking about, Speaking with, or Speaking Alongside
9 In the Belly of the Beast: Eric Michaels and Indigenous Media
10 Toward an Anthropological Cinema: Some Conclusions and a Possible Future
Notes
References
Index

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