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Lecture | Research Seminar

The Ontology and Epistemology of Ethnographic Documentary; exploring other Ways of Knowing in the Anthropological Realm

  • Metje Postma
Thursday 10 November 2022
Pieter de la Court


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No-one will deny the impact that a good ethnographic documentary can have on our understanding of the subjects (meant in terms of topic, theme and protagonists) of such a documentary, yet how do we define that understanding; what is it that we learn to understand about its subjects? How does this qualify as ethnographic knowledge, and even more challenging: as anthropological knowledge?  How also does the understanding of documentary as a narrative form, as a construction through montage, contribute to the assessment of an ethnographic documentary. Do we need such visual literacy in order to be able to distinguish the argument or the narrative of ethnographic documentary? 

Travelling through a selection of films

In this presentation I travel through a selection of films of former students and of myself, in an effort to engage with this conundrum and to challenge the audience to discuss the issues that may obstruct our understanding of documentary as another form of representation within our discipline.  At the least we may achieve the realisation of how knowledge is defined by its mediation and the affordances and limitations of such mediation and at best an opening to embracing other ways of knowing in the anthropological realm.  

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