Les Tambours d’avant: Tourou et Bitti (1971)

In a single take that lasts the duration of the camera magazine, Jean Rouch walks with the camera into a Songhay village in which dancers have been waiting for hours to be possessed by invisible spirits. Suddenly, the dancers become possessed, the possession seemingly provoked by Rouch’s camera.

Dead Birds by Robert Gardner

by Robert Gardner, 1961

[10 parts]

“A cinematographic interpretation of the life of a group of Grand Valley Dani, who are mountain Papuans in West New Guinea (Irian Barat, Indonesia), studied by the Harvard-Peabody Expedition (1961-1963). This film was made by Gardner in 1961, before the area was pacified by the Dutch government. The film focuses on Weyak, the farmer and warrior, and on Pua, the young swineherd, following them through the events of Dani life: sweet potato horticulture, pig keeping, salt winning, battles, raids, and ceremonies.” — Karl G. Heider

On Documentary Educational Resources
Robert Gardner’s website

Felix-Louis Regnault – Chrono Photographic 1895

The Writing of Race in Film. in The Third Eye: race, cinema, and ethnographic spectacle by Fatimah Tobing Rony, Duke University Press, 1996.

Amazon facing ‘real-life Avatar’ says James Cameron

Since we had such a long discussion about Avatar and the ways in which virtual worlds merge with real worlds here’s an update on its success among environmentalists:

Amazon facing ‘real-life Avatar’ says James Cameron

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The Navajo Project

Through Navajo Eyes: An Exploration in Film Communication and Anthropology
By Sol Worth & John Adair

Working hypothesis for our study was that motion picture film, conceived, photographed, and sequentially arranged by a people such as 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 the investigator
(Worth and Adair 1972:27-28).

Stephane Breton, Them and Me

*Interview between Stephane Breton and himself about “Them and Me” as translated by google into English:

*”What is a Body” exhibition held in musée du quai Branly (umm.. museum in France?): “the team of anthropologists led by Stéphane Breton demonstrates that no human society looks upon the body as an entity of strictly individual thought and action. The body is, in fact, seen in different cultures as semi-finished product that must be socially completed by a relationship with something else.”

*Conversation with Stephane Breton about “What is a body” exhibition and “Them and Me” film. He also discusses why he chose film, which he says is “of the essence,” in exploring the subject matter: the relationship between anthropologist and “informants.” Click on link, which takes you to a blog; under “October 17” click on “Listen to the conversation” link:

*I’m sure no one wants to read the whole article, and anyway CEU must give access somewhere, but if anyone wants my barcode to access the article on JSTOR, let me know.

social body and icon of the person: a symbolic analysis of shell money among the Wodani, western highlands of Iran Jaya

by Stephane Breton

A shell belonging to the species Cyprea moneta, commonly referred to as a cowry, is used by the Wodani of Irian Jaya for all sorts of ritual and economic transations. In their universe, where the existence of the sea is unknown, the kipe (cowry) is the only object not of human creation that can be found no place other than in human hands. They say that shells and humans, from the very beginning, have always been together: “Men arrived, kipe arrived.” Among all the objects they know, tehre is no other whose existence is strictly social.
The kipe is used as a means of payment in all kinds of exchanges, from bridewealth and blood price to compensation for ritual services, as well as more mundane transations such as the purchase of pigs, salt, manugactured objects, and sometimes even labor. Being a general medium of exchange–to a point rarely attained by traditional currencies–it is money in the strict sense. In this article, however, my ain is to show that the economic function of the kipe is symbolically determined by its agency in the reporduction of human lfie and society. Thus, as a ritual and symbolic instrument, the shell money fulfills its role as a standard of value (see Godelier 1996).

The Ax Fight


You ca also download the study guide of the film here:

Early Ethnographic Photography and Film

Edward S. Curtis:

He published The North American Indian Project between 1907 and 1930 with the intent to record traditional Indian cultures. The work comprises twenty volumes of narrative text and photogravure images. Each volume is accompanied by a portfolio of large photogravure plates. The entire work is available on the website.

Curtis also made a film with the materials filmed during his expeditions. The film In the Land of The Head-Hunters was released in 1914.

You can download the film scene by scene from the link above or view a short clip on youtube:


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Blog of the Visual Anthropology course at CEU


interdisciplinary meditations on art and culture