SOAS University of London

Centre of South East Asian Studies

Shadows & Illuminations

Shadows & Illuminations 1
Robert Lemelson (UCLA)

Date: 16 April 2021Time: 2:00 PM

Finishes: 16 April 2021Time: 3:30 PM

Venue: Virtual Event

Type of Event: Film Screening


Shadows & Illuminations follows an older Balinese man, Nyoman Kereta, as he struggles with the intrusion of spirits into his consciousness. Kereta says he has been living in two worlds, the world of his family and community and the world of the spirits, for the past 40 years.

His experiences skirt the borders of cultural and spiritual norms, simultaneously manifesting and exceeding Balinese beliefs about the supernatural world and the possibilities for human interaction with it. Kereta's reported experiences seem credible or explicable to some, bizarre and extraordinary to others, enigmatic or doubtful to his wife, and the sign of major mental illness to his psychiatrist.

The film documents his painful history of trauma, loss and poisoning, and draws on his other family member's interpretations of how to understand his struggles and distress. Central questions of how to interpret his experiences, and what role a schizophrenia diagnosis entails are explored.

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Shadows & Illuminations

Shadows & Illuminations can be viewed on Robert Lemelson's YouTube channel.

Director Biography

Robert Lemelson is a cultural and visual  anthropologist. Lemelson currently is a research anthropologist in the Semel Institute of Neuroscience University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), an adjunct professor of Anthropology at UCLA, and a visiting professor at the University of Southern California. Lemelson founded Elemental Productions in 2007, a documentary film company and has directed and produced over a dozen ethnographic films related to culture, psychology and personal experience. His most recent book is "Afflictions: Steps Toward a Visual Psychological Anthropology", published in 2017 by Palgrave Press.

Moderator and discussant: Dr Soe-Tjen Marching (SOAS University of London)

Organiser: SOAS Centre of South East Asian Studies

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