The Plural Reflexivity of TV Editors

Monday, March 27th, 5–7pm, Film & Screen Media Auditorium (Kane Building B10B)

Dr Rupert Stasch (University of Cambridge)

The Plural Reflexivity of TV Editors: Interactions of Documentary Realism, Photographed Speech, and the Mythos of Primitive and Modern

Chair: Dr Tatsuma Padoan (UCC)

 All are very welcome!

Abstract: This talk examines the appeal to viewers of television documentaries about “tribal” societies, through the example of the BBC 2 series My Year with the Tribe. About fifty TV shows have been made about Korowai of Indonesian Papua. I have observed filming of several of these, but in the case of My Year with the Tribe, I was able to do fieldwork on editing. This show followed normal primitivist and “going native” conventions of this wider genre of programming. But the show was unusual in also engaging in a meta-televisual exposé of the inaccuracy of tourists’ and media workers’ fantasies about who Korowai are. This talk touches on editors’ struggle with tensions between these two concepts of the show, and more generally examines the aesthetic, communicative ideas guiding their production and post-production work. Partly in the tradition of Goffman’s essay on “Footing,” I focus on the diversity of voicing configurations involved in the show’s depiction of speech, and diversity of its configurations of visual perspective and address, as these relate to engaging and pleasing viewers.

Dr Rupert Stasch is Associate Professor in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, where he has worked since 2015, after teaching for long periods at UC San Diego and Reed College. He is the author of Society of Others: Kinship and Mourning in a West Papuan Place (2009) and numerous articles based on fieldwork with Korowai of Indonesian-controlled Papua since 1995. He has a background in linguistic, semiotic, and symbolic anthropology. In addition to researching primitivist tourism, he has been publishing on state formation and social change at the far rural periphery, and doing archival work on a fascist-led overland trek in Dutch New Guinea in the 1930s.



27 Mar 2023


5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

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Film and Screen Media Auditorium
Kane Building Basement, Room B10.B


Laboratory for Semiotics, Ethnosemiotics, Nonfictional Studies and Audiovisuality (SENSA Lab)
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