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Type: Theses
Title: An exploration of collaboration: Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal relationships in ethnographic filmmaking
Author: Offler, Naomi Robyn
Issue Date: 2018
School/Discipline: School of Social Sciences
Abstract: This doctoral project explores the collaborative process and relationships formed between anthropologists and/or filmmakers and the Aboriginal people they work with. I use the making of film as the research site to explore the collaborative process and the building of relationships within this process. As anthropologists/filmmakers, the Aboriginal people we now work with, are situated in, and identify themselves within an environment that is a product of more than twenty years of requesting ownership and control of their representations. Aboriginal people are in many cases, highly politicised and direct how they work with anthropologists/filmmakers. This has called for the development of a collaborative practice that honours this altered environment and the way in which Aboriginal people are positioning themselves within it. Through the exploration of my own collaborative practice and those of other anthropologist/filmmakers, I argue that collaborative engagement with Aboriginal people is strongest when it is long term and grounded in the core tenets of respect, trust and shared ownership. This results in a visual product that stems from a process that incorporates the conflicting and differing perspectives and desires of a group of people, versus fulfilling the singular agenda of the anthropologist/filmmaker. I also argue that a long term collaborative relationship is visually evident in the film through the way the people being filmed represent themselves on screen. In this exegesis, I critically analyse the collaborative relationships I developed in my project and the evidence in the films for the intimacy developed in these relationships. This project is a body of material that includes a series of photographs, two films and an exegesis. Incorporated into the film Stitch by Stitch (2017) and the exegesis are still images taken from the films and B&W photographs taken during my fieldwork. Stitch by Stitch (2017) is an ethnographic film that was made with a group of Ngarrindjeri women who live in and around The Coorong and Lower Murray Lakes in South Australia. It focuses on a number of core issues of importance to these women. These are linked throughout the film by the process of weaving from the freshwater rushes that grow in the estuary environment of The Coorong. These core issues include yarning together, teaching, the degradation of the environment and preparing the next generation as custodians for continuing the cultural and artistic practice of weaving. There is also a second film that is strictly pedagogical and a documentation of the key stages of the weaving process. This film was made at the request of the woman who has been my central collaborator and friend in the project, Aunty Ellen Trevorrow. The making of these films constituted my research site for exploring collaboration between myself as an anthropologist/filmmaker, and my Ngarrindjeri colleagues. I spent seven years making the films with the Ngarrindjeri women. This was incorporated into a total of eleven years fieldwork and ongoing engagement with Ngarrindjeri men and women. My fieldwork was defined by periods of long and short-term stays, multiple conversations and communication with my Ngarrindjeri colleagues. Using the making of the film as the research site as a means to explore collaboration, has resulted in identifying collaborative engagement based on respect, trust and shared ownership as a pathway for ethnographic filmmaking practice that honours the contemporary environment in which Aboriginal people are now requesting ownership of their representations and enlisting the skills of anthropologist/filmmakers in furthering their cultural and political goals. This is a pathway that encapsulates the building of trust, respect and intimacy between filmmakers/anthropologists and their Aboriginal colleagues, as well as acknowledging that any collaborative process is marked by conflicts and differing perspectives that potentially allow for multiple outcomes and products. It also argues that deep long term relationships are the foundation for building powerful partnerships between Aboriginal people and anthropologists and/or filmmakers into the future.
Advisor: Hemer, Susan
Wilmore, Michael Joseph
Fergie, Deane
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Social Sciences, 2018
Keywords: collaboration
ethnographic filmmaking
Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal relationships
Provenance: Copyright material (Films) removed from digital thesis. See print copy in University of Adelaide Library for full thesis.
This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
DOI: 10.4225/55/5b0dedb5572fa
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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