Ethnofiction. Jaguar (West Africa 67)
performs practice-based research within the frames of
a doctoral education at the department of Drama at the
University of Manchester.
The subject of the research, which is financed
by ‘The Arts and Humanities Research Board’
in the UK, is 'The Ethnofiction'. The research will
result in one thesis and two films in 2007.
Ethnofiction: genre hybridity in theory and practice-based
Practice-based PhD in Drama
This research project will consider if the largely
unexplored genre of ethnofictions, as described by theorist/practitioner
Jean Rouch (Eaton 1979; Rouch 2003), offers means of
integrating a hybrid study within drama and ethnography.
A key question is whether a nuanced understanding of
foreign cultures can be created and mediated by combining
ethnographic research methods with the processes of
dramatic work? This proposed doctoral research builds
directly on my experience in both fields, having worked
as an actor/ director on intercultural theatre projects
for fourteen years and completed a first degree in Social
Anthropology and an MA in Visual Anthropology.
My proposed doctoral study, entitled, Ethnofiction:
genre hybridity in theory and practice-based research,
will be a practice-based PhD in Drama. The Ethnofiction
is an experimental ethnographic film genre, where the
practitioner asks the subjects of his fieldwork to act
out aspects of their life-experience in front of the
camera in improvisations (as exemplified in Rouch’s
classic film, Jaguar, 1967). Given the relative paucity
of literature on ethnofiction, I will seek to examine
whether the use of improvisation, combined with participant
observation, can be an effective research method.
Following a detailed background study of Rouch’s
methodology of ethnofiction, I will test these approaches
in Year 2 of my studies by making two films: an ethnographic
documentary and an ethnofiction, about Brazilian transsexuals
and travestis living in São Paulo. Brazilian
transsexuals (males-females) and travestis have been
males that have adopted a female appearance. While transsexuals
(male-female) identify as women, a Brasilian travesti
identifies nor as as man nor as woman - she identifies
as a travesti. Brazilian transsexuals and travestis
often work as prostitutes and suffers from intolerance.
The work relates to preliminary research I have been
conducting on transsexual and travesti groups during
trips to São Paulo, to make arrangements for
my doctoral research. Contact groups for my research
include the ‘ENTLAIDS´ (a national meeting
of travestis and transsexuals) and regional organizations
such as TRANSA SÃO PAULO and ASTRA RIO.
The interdisciplinarity of my study is illustrated
in the crosssection of literature that I will be drawing
upon, which covers Film Studies, Visual Anthropology
and Applied Drama. Baseline texts include Boal’s
(1979) work on the theatre of the oppressed, Rony’s
(1996) and Loizos’ (1993) inter-pretations of
ethnographic filmic practice, and Kulick’s (1998)
and Jabor’s (1993) research on travesti in Brazil.
References: Boal, A. 1979. Theatre
of the oppressed (London: Pluto); Eaton, M. 1979. Anthropology
– Reality – Cinema (London: BFI); Jabor,
A. 1993. Os canibais estão na sala de jantar
(São Paulo: Siciliano); Kulick, D. 1998. Travestí
(Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press); Loizos, P. 1993.
Innovation in Ethnographic Film (Manchester: Manchester
Univ. Press); Rony, F.1996.The Third Eye (Durham: Duke
Univ. Press); Rouch, J. 2003. Ciné-ethnography
(Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press)
Year 1: Background research and literature
survey conducted at Manchester University, initial research
trip to Sao Paulo, completion of 20,000 words.
Year 2: Fieldwork and filming of practical
component undertaken in São Paulo, completion
of a further 20,000 words.
Year 3: Post-production of practical component,
completion of final 10,000 words, revision of thesis
My fieldwork in Brazil will be aided by the fact that
I speak Portuguese fluently. I have established a number
of professional and subject contacts in São Paulo.
Having completed the MA in Visual Anthropology at the
Univ. of Manchester, I have the necessary filmmaking
skills for undertaking the practice-based elements of
my doctoral research, and am well-acquainted with the
state-of-the-art video post-production facilities at
the Univ’s Media Centre that I will be using.
As a member of the Nordic Anthropological Film Association,
I will draw upon colleagues in the organization to provide
feedback on my filmed experiments during the latter
phase of my research.
Rua Albuquerque Lins, 107 - Apto 82 A
Santa Cecília - São Paulo - SP
Mobile: +55 (0)11 9144 6957