Video ethnography in modern archaeology

On the first day of my practicum at Australian Cultural Heritage Management (ACHM. http://www.achm.com.au/) I was introduced to all the staff in the office, including Clive Taylor, a digital ethnographer. Video ethnography was not something I had considered in the context of consulting archaeological work before, and I was lucky enough to be able to spend a few hours with Clive, discussing the kind of work he does.

 

Video ethnography is a form of documentation that records ethnographic and anthropological material. According to David MacDougall (2001) the  role of a video ethnographer is not only to record information for later analysis and parsing, but to tell the ethnographic story, the life story of a person, through film. MacDougall also notes that the advent of digital technology has revolutionised ethnographic film by eliminating many of the cost and equipment related restrictions that video ethnographers once faced.

 

When it comes to the application of video ethnography in archaeology, the ability of film to tell a story could lend an entire new dimension to oral histories and the connection of individuals to archaeological material. The unique ability of film to go beyond audio recording opens up new ways for archaeologists to understand the connection of people to the past and place. People who know a lot about film are also useful to have around generally, as they can often offer solutions to problems of recording data that are insoluble to the non-initiated.

 

MacDougall, D 2001 Renewing Ethnographic Film: Is Digital Video Changing the Genre? Anthropology Today  17 (3): 15-2.

 

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