Tim Asch 's Cultural Anthropology Essay

Tim Asch 's Cultural Anthropology Essay

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Tim Asch is a well-known photographer, filmmaker, ethnographer, and a visual anthropologist. The main purpose of Tim Asch’s anthropological work was to “teach cultural anthropology to university undergraduates and to make the filmic materials accessible so that other scholars and teachers could make use of them in ways not imagined by him” (Ruby 1975, 115). With that being said, Asch was determined to do fieldwork (the process of living with people being studied, asking them questions, and surveying their environments and material possessions), and share his ideas, in order to develop the minds of future anthropologists and scholars. Throughout the years of his career, Asch “collaborated with anthropologists to produce more than 70 films that document cultures and explore issues of cultural change, empowerment and identity in North and South America, Africa and Indonesia” (Gershick 1994). Therefore, Asch’s work was defined by the cultural context and visual aid that he used as a form of evidence to portray his anthropological work.
Similarly, Richard Flaherty’s work Nanook portrayed similar qualities of ethnographic film, although Flaherty was not an anthropology. According to Ruby, Flaherty “not only behaved like an anthropologist, but his field methods, his stated intentions, and his willingness to be methodologically explicit place him more solidly within orthodox anthropology than do the actions of most of the contemporary self-professed ethnographic filmmakers” (Ruby 1975, 86). That is to say, by displaying ethnographic details in his film, the use of anthropological methodology, and last but not least, portraying reality based on the materials and activities in the film, Flaherty became known as “the first ethnographic film...


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...iscourse play a vital role in coming to a conclusion regarding a film, to know whether it was meant to be ethnographic or not. Therefore, in order to conduct good research as anthropologist, one has to be ethical, which may translate in different ways, such as cultural relativism and developing a relationship with your participants. By comprising all these features, Tim Asch, Robert Flaherty, Jean Rouch, and many other anthropologist’s “films, partake in the practice of shared anthropology in various ways” (Berthe 2009, 3). Hence, “Rouch attempted to share his filmmaking knowledge with the people who featured in his films. As a result, Rouch trained several Africans who would go on to become filmmakers (Oumarou Ganda and Safi Faye, to name just a couple)” (Berthe 2009, 4). Thus, Rouch’s research was based on “collaboration and participatory method” (Berthe 2009, 4).

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