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On Teaching Ethnographic Film

Academic Questions Volume 26, Number 4, ISSN 0895-4852


The author of this article, a developmental anthropologist, illustrates how the instructor can use ethnographic films to enhance the study of anthropology and override notions about the scope and efficacy of Western intervention in the Third World, provided the instructor places such films in their proper historical and cultural context. He describes how ethnographic films were used by instructors to interpret and teach a specific anthropological study. It is noted that ethnographic film "Kung Fu Grandma," directed by Jeong-One Park, and "Chokora: Surviving on the Street," directed by Lea Furrer, are two films that show homelessness, poverty, and displacement in the slums of contemporary Nairobi, Kenya. Using these films as examples, he shows how to get the student to move from film to printed word, with its different theories, paradigms, and masses of description. He suggests that, because instructors must find accurate and responsible ways to place such films in the context of a classroom setting, they could be screened alongside a critical reading of pieces that propose to report on how well Africa is doing.


Clarfield, G. (2013). On Teaching Ethnographic Film. Academic Questions, 26(4), 465-475. Retrieved March 5, 2021 from .

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