New Worlds from Fragments: Film, Ethnography and the Representation of Northwest Coast Cultures.

 

Bringing together the insights of literary criticism, film theory, history, and anthropology, this book – originally written as a Master’s Thesis — explores the tradition of ethnographic film on the Northwest Coast and its relationship to the ethnography of the area. Rosalind Morris takes account of these films, organizing her discussions around a series of detailed readings and viewings that treat questions of form and content in broadly historical terms. Asking why the films took the direction they did, each with a distinct representational strategy, and how the written and filmic ethnographies of the area have differed from each other, she points out the complex relationships between particular epistemological positions, aesthetic strategies, and institutional politics. The book explores both the ethnographic imagination of the Northwest Coast and the place of that particular image in the discipline’s representation of non-Western “others.” The introductory and concluding chapters extend the discussions beyond the Northwest Coast, directly addressing the politics of anthropological poetics through an analysis of the discipline’s relationship to the Western mass media’s imaging of non-Western peoples. Morris works toward a radically historicized film theory, one that refuses the empiricism of documentary realism while confronting its own aesthetic traditions in order to re-envision them.