What are the possibilities of portraiture in filmmaking, and how can biographical and ethnographic approaches be integrated in film practice and humanistic cultural research? This lecture will explore possibilities in the ethnographic and biographical representation of life experiences and human subjectivity by rethinking the methods and theories of documentary film-making, biography, life history, and ethnography. In particular, I will discuss the theoretical and practical dimensions of my current film in progress, currently titled These Days, These Homes. In this work, I aim to craft a filmic portrait of two rural Miao women born in the 1980s and to provide a person-centered visual ethnography of ethnic, gendered, and classed subjectivities in the post-socialist era. I first began filming these women in 2006 during an earlier anthropological project on tourism as development in rural ethnic China and continued working with them on this new film in 2015. By re-analyzing older footage and recording new material more recently, my aim is to reflect on the challenges and ethics of longitudinal research relationships, and to contribute to important on-going debates over power, control, and agency in the representation of lived experiences through ethnography, portraiture, and biography.
Response: Aurélie Névot (Paris)