SOC 187 Africa

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cass
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151635
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SOC 187 Africa
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2012-05-02 02:57:23
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Terms in study quide
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  1. Ethnographic Film
    An ethnographic film can be categorized under the “observational mode,” in that these films convey cultural traditions, rituals, and overall daily life. Within observational mode, there is no interpretation- only documentation of a society. Ethnographic films adopt anthropological and sociological frames to convey a culture/community. It emerged in the 1960s as an important tool for research in the domain of visual anthropology, when filming human groups in society. An example of an ethno. film is “Great great great grandparents” in the documentation of djeli kone family in Burkina Faso (griot tradition) over 2 decades. According to Jean Rouch- “characteristics of high quality ethnographic films include:” 1. soundman must speak the language, 2. cameraman must be the ethnographer, 3. ethnographer must spend a long time in field before beginning to shoot, 4. handheld cameras preferred to tripods, 5. all filming must be edited in collab. with the ethnographer, 6. use original sync sound and narration rather than subtitles and resist music/soundtracks unless gathered in the film.Key early figures: Robert Flaherty, Karl Heider, Jean Rouch,
  2. Griot Tradition
    A tradition within west africa. The Griot/ Gewel/ Jali is an esteemed position within west africa, while it is considered to be of a lower class, griot literally translates into servant (servant to the wealthy nobles). Griot is a traveling historian/ storyteller/ musician - the tradition is passed down via generations/ family lineage- one must be born into the tradition and is taught by family members. relating to the “my foreparents used to beat the drums”- the wolof gewel percussionist families that share their musical traditions with among their family generations. griots are an endogamous caste that are invited to prestigious celebrations to be paid to tell stories/ preform for the wealthy. tradition present in “great great great grandparents” and “karmen gei”
  3. Missing Narrative
    The missing narrative phenomenon is found in Kabore’s film “Wend Kunni” and seems to defying western concepts of space and time. Working in a cyclical, rather than linear, time pattern, the film remains deprived of a unifying discourse or plot until Wend Kunni can verbally “recall” his personal story. The film opens with a woman crying over a small boy (Wend Kunni) and we are thrown into the story of a lone, adopted boy without knowing any context or what his story is until the very end through flashbacks and his final use of voice. Only then can we establish chronological order and the significance of the other sequences.
  4. Missing Narrative
    In Senegal, the Wolof gewel caste holds the family to be of central importance in all aspects of life. As Tang illustrates in “My Foreparents Used to Beat the Drums”, the family acts as a learning environment, performance troupe, and creator of a sabar repertory. Gewel families include generations of percussionists who spend their lives perfecting their unique drumming skill. In Senegal, sabar is dominated almost exclusively by three extended gewel families. While all three families have their own unique stories, they all share commonalities in life experiences: they all began drumming at an early age by growing up in a family sabar environment, they all eventually quit school to pursue their percussionist careers, and they all have a huge sense of family/gewel pride. This family dynamic is seen in Rosellini’s film, Great great great grandparent’s music, which follows three generations of the Kone family over 20 years, revealing to us collective oral traditions and histories of this percussionist family.
  5. Percussionist Families in Senegal
    In Senegal, the Wolof gewel caste holds the family to be of central importance in all aspects of life. As Tang illustrates in “My Foreparents Used to Beat the Drums”, the family acts as a learning environment, performance troupe, and creator of a sabar repertory. Gewel families include generations of percussionists who spend their lives perfecting their unique drumming skill. In Senegal, sabar is dominated almost exclusively by three extended gewel families. While all three families have their own unique stories, they all share commonalities in life experiences: they all began drumming at an early age by growing up in a family sabar environment, they all eventually quit school to pursue their percussionist careers, and they all have a huge sense of family/gewel pride. This family dynamic is seen in Rosellini’s film, Great great great grandparent’s music, which follows three generations of the Kone family over 20 years, revealing to us collective oral traditions and histories of this percussionist family.
  6. La Grande Maison
    Tang’s article, “My Foreparents used to Beat the Drums” discusses the three prominent sabar percussionist families in Senegal. One of these families is the Mbaye family, who has resided in a middle class quarter next to one of the most densely populated cities in Dakar since 1976. This home is referred to as “grande maison”, and is typical of a gewel household: busy, active, and always having an element of chaos and disorder. The house includes a small courtyard where families members socialize and greet visitors as they enter the compound. A salon, or living room, is at the entrance of the compound, and is where guests are normally received and the head of the household, Macheikh Mbaye, are usually found. There is a kitchen area and seven other bedrooms, and a “chambre de sabar” where the drums are kept. At any given time there are 15-20 people living in the house as family is extremely important in the gewel community and in Wolof culture as a whole. Additionally, because the household is well known throughout the community as a house of gewel, people routinely come over to obtain the services of percussion for baptisms, etc.
  7. Group Rimbax
    Tang’s article “My Foreparents Used to Beat the Drums” shows the importance of family in the gewel community/Wolof culture by presenting the stories of three of the most prominent sabar families in Senegal. The importance of family is perhaps most clearly portrayed in the family sabar group, Group Rimbax. The formation of “official” family sabar troupes like this is a fairly recent phenomenon. The Mbaye family sabar group was founded in the early 1990s by Thio Mbaye who wanted to have his own sabar group in the same way a singer leads a mbalax band. The name of the group derives from a sabar sound that is part one of Thio’s signature rhythms, and is a sound that is very difficult to produce. The group consists of a numerous percussionists from Thio’s extended family and became very popular due in large part to the release of Thio Mbaye’s solo cassette of the same name in 1993.
  8. Wolof Caste Relations (Heath)
    In Heath’s article on recontextualizing women’s dance in urban Senegal she explores the politics of appropriateness in which gender is woven within other political domains like age, class, and caste. Caste is very important in this society, as women of different social status play different roles in their performance of dance. Members of the lower caste (neeno) speak and act on behalf of the upper class (geer) because it is viewed as inappropriate for the women of the upper caste to engage in the sexualized dances. We see this caste system at work in Karmen Gei, as Karmen is from a lower griot praise singing class in the Wolof culture. She does not partake in much restraint with her dancing, occasionally using tassu (bawdy oral poetry) to punctuate her dance and place her performance in the realm of everyday resistance. These kinds of acts can be viewed within the caste system as a struggle for control in the form of dance.
  9. Social Politics of Sabar (Heath)
    In Heath’s article on recontextualizing women’s dance in urban Senegal article, she discusses the politics of appropriateness that surround women’s dance. This includes the bodily and verbal expression of sexuality and Wolof norms of conduct rooted in the concept of kersa (honor), which links high status to restraint. Members on the lower castes (neeno) speak and act on behalf of the upper castes (geer) because it is viewed as inappropriate for the women of the upper caste to engage in the sexualized dances. In Wolof social and political economy of performance, control of performance is a source of power and gives praise singer license to act in “inappropriate” ways. Gender, age, caste, along with degree of privacy at performance setting, join in determining when it is appropriate for a particular woman to dance.
  10. Electric Fan dance
    Name comes from the opening line of the taasu (poem) associated with the dance; it serves as a graphic metaphor for the motions of the performer. (Women in urban Senegal) Women in urban Senegal are constantly devising new dance steps, variations on traditional styles; at any given moment there will be one that is all the rage. The rapid spread of knowledge about a new dance, from city to town and from one neighborhood to another, is itself a notable feature of Senegalese urban culture. Each new dance is named, usually after the opening word or phrase of its accompanying taasu. The name of the dance frequently refers to its most salient or suggestive movement. The dance serves as a reminder of the way cultural norms are appropriated and commoditized (the way that the electric fan dance changes and spread from community to community reflects this).
  11. Observational mode
    ethnographic orientation (cultural traditions, life etc..), no interpretations, the mode has synchronous sound to the images (not a lot of sound effects/music), Long takes (with different shots can take up to 10 seconds), Continuity (no abrupt scene shifts, they flow naturally), Present tense, non-authoritarian/ ethical (no agenda in mind, resist demeaning the population, must have good relationship with the population).
  12. Trickster archetype
    • amusing; diversions bring arguments
    • lovable loner; acts outside realm of “civilized” behavior has powers of persuasion; linguistically skilled
    • brings to the surface things like conflict, passion, malice, and social inequalities to ignite transformation; rebellious character in order to get people’s attention in order to change things/situations a shape-shifter; non-dualistic; border crosser; typically anti-establishment; many wear red and black
  13. Gold Coast Migration (Rouch)
    “The trip to the Gold Coast was, according to Rouch, a great adventure, a rite of passage... For Rouch “the road” was part of the adventurous world of Songhay and Zerma migrants” (Pg 50-51 of reader). Made for socio-economic reasons. Men in the family would travel to the Gold Coast for job opportunities and would send the money they earned home to their families.
  14. Improvisational Cinema
    Rouche reading pg.8 : first synthesis of Vertov’s cine-eye and Flaherty’s participating camera. Camera must be hand held in order to become as fluid as the subject. Nothing is known in advance; rather each subsequent move is decided by the preceding action, as the actions are completed. The camera without need for zooming, then becomes an extension of the subject, penetrating the subject. As the director follows or dances with the subject, s/he enters “cine-trance” The travelers in the film are observing multiple men perform sabar with only sheaths covering their peinis’ dancing freely
  15. Internal Subjectivity
    The subjective point of view of members of a particular society as interpreted by the filmmaker
  16. External Subjectivity
    The subjectivity interpreations of a filmmaker imposed as an external interpretation of a society
  17. Humanism (in doc film)
    An approach in doc that seeks to portray the experiences of the subjets from their perspective and in their cultural enviroment. emp internal subjectivity
  18. Dialogical Ethnographic
    dialogue with filmmaker and those individuals who are filmed
  19. Reflexive filmmaking
    based on reflections of the subject postion in contrast to the film
  20. reflective montage
    uses jump cuts, blank space, sound discontinuity, and asynchonism to draw attention to the subjective position of the filmmaker in constructing ethno reality
  21. depth of field
    the area in front of the camera
  22. jump shot
    two similar shots cut together with a jump in continuity

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