Sample ethnographic films

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Ethnomusicological ethnographic films

Film representing music representing people...

Thinking about film

How would you evaluate the following films? Consider evaluative criteria (axiology):

  • truth
  • ethics
  • aesthetics

Critique: Power of representation.

  • Who creates a film? What roles go into its making?
  • Whose voice(s) do we see/hear?
  • What other forces may be shaping the final product?
  • What is the role of the (self-declared) filmmaker?
  • What do you imagine are the relations of film to fieldworker to fieldwork?

How would you classify these films, considering:

  • ethnographic "truth"
  • politics of representation
  • Kind of ethnography
  • Role of ethnography in making of the film
  • Reflexivity (positioning of filmmakers within the film)
  • Cinematographic style
  • Editing style
  • Position of music
  • Intentionality

Films and clips

(some of the following are clips, others are full films. For full films you may watch only a few minutes to get the feel... For clips, you may like to watch other segments from the same film...).


The Land Where the Blues Began

Gravel Springs Fife and Drum

The Drums of Dagbon. Compare to fife and drum music in the above...

More Than Just a Game: Competitions and Celebrations in Ethiopia, Ghana, Niger, Senegal, and Sudan

Breaking Traditional Roles: Aymara Women Play Music (02:27) From Title: Bolivia: The Coca Leaf, Food of the Poor

Jumpin' Night in the Garden of Eden. Jewish music for everyone. But it's a revival...who's the ethnomusicologist?

The Shakers

Powerhouse for God

Music to Celebrate the Dead (04:20) From Title: Dying in Africa: Perspectives on the End of Life in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, and South Africa

Listening to the Silence: African Cross Rhythms

Shozan Tanabe: The Sound of Silence. A very different concept of silence...or is it?

Celebration of the Prophet's Grandson (03:42) From Title: Paper Gods: Aspects of Religion in Benin, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Mali

Witch Catchers and Possession Ceremonies (03:26) From Title: Healers of Ghana

Bushmen Cosmology (01:17) From Title: Last of the Bushmen

Female Rappers in Syria (06:57) From Title: Rap Refugees: Conservative Palestinian Education in Flux

Zimbabwe—Untapped Resources: (04:35) From Title: Why Women Count Video Clip Collection: Africa, Middle East, South Asia See also Dudu Manhenga's website

Shadow and music in the Buduburam Liberian refugee camp of Ghana

Some online sources of ethnomusicological film (ethnographic or documentary)

see CCE listing.