Anthropologists have approached ethnography as text, as narration, as story, and as film and picture in their search for ethnographic self-reflection and authority. After a general introduction to concepts such as “primitivism”, “modernist sensibility” and “ethnographic allegory/fiction”, we will examine ethnographic texts, films (e.g. Maya Deren) and photo works by prominent anthropologists from the 1920s to 1940s. In this connection, the works of Ruth Benedict (Patterns of Culture, 1934) and Margaret Mead (Coming of Age in Samoa, 1928) were critized for being too novelistic. Another less famous student of Franz Boas and writer of the Harlem Renaissance, Zora Neale Hurston, can be renowned as a pioneer in Literary Anthropology (Mules and Men, 1935). Examining these works in detail, our aim in the seminar will be to explore critically how these early experimental forms of anthropological writing created new narrative strategies in the representation of the cultural Other in close connection to gender, sexuality and gendered relations.
In addition, students will have the opportunity to examine the ethnographic imagination on the field of ethnographic fiction and feminist science fiction (e.g. Ursula Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness, 1969), and anthropological narratives in film and TV (e.g. Game of Thrones).
The seminar is open to students of European Ethnology and Gender Studies.