Wondrous Difference: Cinema, Anthropology, and Turn-of-the-Century Visual Culture

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Overview

The ethical and ideological implications of cross-cultural image-making continue to stir debate among anthropologists, film scholars, and museum professionals. This innovative book focuses on the contested origins of ethnographic film from the late nineteenth century to the 1920s, vividly depicting the dynamic visual culture of the period as it collided with the emerging discipline of anthropology and the new technology of motion pictures. Featuring more than 100 illustrations, the book examines museums of natural history, world´s fairs, scientific and popular photography, and the early filmmaking efforts of anthropologists and commercial producers to investigate how cinema came to assume the role of mediator of cultural difference at the beginning of the twentieth century.
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Editorial Reviews

Current Anthropology - Deborah Poole

Wondrous Difference will make an excellent... textbook for advanced undergraduate or graduate courses in both visual anthropology and the history of anthropology.

Current Anthropology
Wondrous Difference will make an excellent... textbook for advanced undergraduate or graduate courses in both visual anthropology and the history of anthropology.

— Deborah Poole

Film Quarterly - Amy J. Staples

With fascinating examples and illustrations culled from a number of international archives, Wondrous Difference is an invaluable resource for cinema historians, anthropologists, archivists, and museum professionals.... Griffiths is working within a new tradition of scholars approaching visuality with a historically integrated and culturally critical perspective.... The masterful way in which Griffiths navigates and reveals the complexity of these relationships sets a standard for others to follow.

Choice

A significant contribution to knowledge about methods of recording and presenting visual culture of non-Western peoples in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Film Quarterly
With fascinating examples and illustrations culled from a number of international archives, Wondrous Difference is an invaluable resource for cinema historians, anthropologists, archivists, and museum professionals.... Griffiths is working within a new tradition of scholars approaching visuality with a historically integrated and culturally critical perspective.... The masterful way in which Griffiths navigates and reveals the complexity of these relationships sets a standard for others to follow.

— Amy J. Staples

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231116961
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 2/27/2002
  • Series: Film and Culture Series
  • Pages: 528
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.44 (h) x 1.19 (d)

Meet the Author

Alison Griffiths is assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Baruch College, City University of New York. The work on which this book is based won the Society for Cinema Studies dissertation prize.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
List of Illustrations
Introduction
Pt. I Precinema and Ethnographic Representation
1 Life Groups and the Modern Museum Spectator 3
2 Science and Spectacle: Visualizing the Other at the World's Fair 46
3 Knowledge and Visuality in Nineteenth-Century Anthropology 86
Pt. II Early Ethnographic Film in Science and Popular Culture
4 The Ethnographic Cinema of Alfred Cort Haddon and Walter Baldwin Spencer 127
5 "The World Within Your Reach": Popular Cinema and Ethnographic Representation 171
Pt. III First Steps: The Museum and Early Filmmakers
6 Early Ethnographic Film at the American Museum of Natural History 255
7 Finding a Home for Cinema in Ethnography: The First Generation of Anthropologist-Filmmakers in America 283
8 Conclusion: The Legacy of Early Ethnographic Film 312
Notes 331
Filmography 415
Bibliography 421
Index 451
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