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Conveying traditional Indigenous culture: From ethnographic film to community-based storytelling


Conveying traditional Indigenous culture: From ethnographic film to community-based storytelling

Shepherd, Gyde F. (2013) Conveying traditional Indigenous culture: From ethnographic film to community-based storytelling. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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In the following chapters, I discuss several works of film, video and photography made since the early twentieth century depicting Inuit and other Indigenous peoples of North America. Their creators have been motivated by a desire to produce a record, through various methods of reconstruction, of past ways of life of their Indigenous subjects. In the context of these efforts, the question of how to structure the material to attract and hold the attention of an audience has been a primary concern. The films discussed in chapters two and three exemplify ethnographic filmmaking as a visual and narrative practice of salvage ethnography. In contrast, the films and videos discussed in chapters four and five are examples of Indigenous media—that is to say, media produced by Indigenous people and communities—that make use of ethnographic, or simply cultural, reconstruction in a way that assumes the continuing vitality of Indigenous cultures and a healthy balance between past and present. Focusing on the example of Canada’s first Inuit-made feature-length fiction film, Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, I argue that the film’s success and significance is grounded in a respect for traditional Inuit storytelling practices and an experiential approach to teaching that uses video as a proxy for directly “showing how,” an effort to make traditional Inuit cultural memory and stories relevant to Inuit and wider audiences in the present and future.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Communication Studies
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Shepherd, Gyde F.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Media Studies
Date:November 2013
Thesis Supervisor(s):Allor, Martin
Keywords:Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, Isuma TV, Igloolik Isuma, Zackarias Kunuk, Inuit video, community-based video, indigenous media, Canada, media history, Firsts Nations and Inuit media, storytelling, video art, ethnographic film, Nanook of the North, Netsilik Film Series
ID Code:978261
Deposited On:02 Jul 2014 14:23
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:46
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