[skip to content]

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Issues in the Anthropology of Film

Course Code:
15PANH022
Unit value:
0.5
Year of study:
Year 1 or Year 2
Taught in:
Term 1
The main aims of this course may be summarised as follows: first, through discussion of the films and verbal statements of a number of the best-known ethnographic film-makers, to encourage students to 'view' or 'read' films critically, rather than simply to 'watch' them; secondly, by examining the different styles and conventions in the construction of ethnographic films, to help students question the conventions employed in written modes to communicate an understanding of other people's beliefs and behaviours.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

The main aims of this course are threefold:

  • to introduce the history of ethnographic film by covering the some of the important films and major filmmakers who have defined the field;
  • to examine the main documentary styles and conventions that have been used in the construction of ethnographic films;
  • to consider the main issues and themes that have used to critically evaluate and theorize film as a mode of anthropological inquiry.

Scope and syllabus

Discussion topics include:

  • early documentary;
  • film as art;
  • film in teaching and research;
  • film as event;
  • participatory and observational film;
  • indigenous film-making;
  • film in political advocacy, and the ethics of documentary;
  • reflexive filming and editing;
  • anthropology of/on television.

Method of assessment

100% Coursework.