An anthropologist among the film-makers: A cautionary tale’. Part 1. ‘The politics of production’

Caplan, Pat. 2013. An anthropologist among the film-makers: A cautionary tale’. Part 1. ‘The politics of production’. Anthropology Today, 29(6), pp. 23-26. ISSN 0268-540X [Article]

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Abstract or Description

In recent years film has been viewed as the prime vehicle by which anthropologists may engage with the public in an attractive way. But this is not without its pitfalls. In two parts, this article looks back at the making of an anthropological television series, Face Values, in the 1970s, a joint project of BBC TV and the RAI. Some of the reasons for the considerable differences between the author as one of the anthropological consultants, and the production and editing team, are discussed, as are the reactions of the villagers on Mafia Island, who were concerned for their dignity and privacy while being filmed for the series. Part 1 considers the politics of shooting film footage, and the tensions between anthropological and televisual premises. Part 2 is about the politics of circulation and audience, taking account of the views of Mafians as well as UK audiences (both lay and anthropological). While the former liked the film material they saw, some of them later came to find it problematic. In the UK, although the series attracted high viewing figures, it was the object of considerable criticism from both newspaper critics and anthropologists, and soon fell into obscurity. However, some of the issues and problems raised in this case study remain very real today for those who would bring together anthropology and film.

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Date Deposited:

22 Apr 2016 08:39

Last Modified:

16 Jun 2017 10:59

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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