Representation of Indigenous People Through Documentary and Ethnographic Film: With Particular Reference to the Ju/'hoan Community of the Kalahari, and the Effect Film has had on Their Lives
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While documentary films featuring indigenous people have a long history and include ethnographic films made under educational or scientific auspices, many films about indigenous people have been prone to projection by filmmakers, particularly those with little in depth knowledge of their film subjects. People labeled ‘Bushmen’ have, more than any other indigenous people, been portrayed in documentaries in ways which relate more to the fantasies of the filmmaker and those of his or her culture than to the people at the other end of the camera. In order to investigate this problem, this dissertation employs both an audio-visual component and a written exegesis. The latter considers the problem by examining the evolution of the work of iconic ethnographic filmmaker, John Marshall who, during fifty years of filming the Ju/’hoansi (a.k.a. Kalahari Bushmen), tirelessly invented creative solutions to reduce his own projections and present more truthful and accurate representations of the people in his films. This exegesis introduces issues of projection and archetype in documentary and discusses historical examples of the ‘Bushman myth’ in documentary before analyzing the evolution of Marshall’s filmmaking career in the Kalahari and his efforts to counter the myth. Throughout the exegesis reference is made to the impact of Marshall’s ideas and philosophy of flmmaking on my own practice.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Humanities
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The Appendix , which is a transcript of an interview, is not published here for copyright reasons.
Documentary films and indigenous peoples